HSBC says Thai businesses bullish on trade

With the return of robust export growth, more than 90 percent of Thai businesses said they are optimistic about their international business prospects and expect their trade volumes to rise, driving away the doom and gloom of just a few years ago, according to a survey released by HSBC bank last week.

“We see a robust trade prospect in 2018 and Thai firms can reap benefits from an upturn in consumer demand and improved economic conditions for their international business,’’ said Krisda Phatcharoen, head of commercial banking for HSBC Thailand.

His views conformed to the results of the bank’s survey that found that 92 percent of 200 businesses surveyed in Thailand are upbeat about their international business prospects and are expecting an increase in trade over the next 12 months. The survey was international, querying decision makers at over 6,000 businesses in 26 countries. Thailand was one of top three countries in optimistic outlook and its 92 percent positive view exceeded the global average of 77 percent.

The survey entitled “Navigator: Now, Next and How for Business” said Thai executives were also positive about growth in demand for trade financing and its increasing accessibility. The chief concern among Thai decision makers was exchange rate volatility. The Thai currency, the baht, has been steadily rising in value against the dollar for several months, sparking fears among some exporters that their goods and services will be less competitive in pricing. But so far, export growth has remained strong.

Exports rose 10.3 percent year-on-year for the month of February, beating the forecasts of economists polled by Reuters news agency. In January, exports soared 17.6 percent year on year for the largest increase in five years. That marked a sharp turnaround from two to three years earlier when exports slumped, barely recording any growth at some points and leading to concerns among economists and business people that Thailand was losing its competitive edge. Pessimism was rampant among the Thai business community at that time.

The Bank of Thailand raised its export growth forecast for the year to 7 percent last week, up from an earlier forecast of 4 percent, but cautioned about uncertainties arising from international trade frictions. The Bank also raised its economic growth forecast to 4.1 percent for this year, up from an earlier prediction of 3.9 percent.

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