Shippers’ group poised to revise up forecast for export growth

Shippers’ group poised to revise up forecast for export growth

Shipping containers are stacked at Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Chon Buri province. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The national shippers’ group looks set to raise its export growth forecast next month after the country registered a robust export growth of 12.7% in the first half, boosted by rising global food demand, higher prices and the baht’s weakness.

Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said the council sees exports showing better signs in the second half, prompting it to upgrade the forecast for exports for the whole year next month to 10% growth from 6-8% now.

“The export sector will remain the hero driving the country’s economic growth,” said Mr Chaichan.

“We are upbeat that export growth could outstrip our existing forecast of 6-8% growth and now fight to achieve 10% growth this year,” he said.

According to Mr Chaichan, the chance to achieve a double-digit growth rate is highly likely because of the weak baht and continued export expansion of agro-industrial products.

For the first half of 2022, exports expanded by 12.7% from the same period last year to US$149.1 billion, while imports rose by 21% to $155.4 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $6.25 billion.

Mr Chaichan said in the second half of this year, exports could manage to reach a growth level of 7% based on the assumption that the baht moves at 34-36 baht per dollar, with oil prices quoted at about $100-115 per barrel and the shortage of semiconductors easing in the fourth quarter, boosting car exports.

However, he noted many risk factors remain, especially the world’s rising inflation situation, relatively high energy prices because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, high freight rates, a shortage of raw materials and their price volatility.

Given such headwinds, the council proposed the Bank of Thailand maintain its benchmark policy rate at 0.5% to enable the recovery pace of the business sector to stay on course and prevent more impact on consumer purchasing power and businesses’ costs.

The central bank is expected to start raising its key rate from a record low of 0.5% next week to contain inflation.

Commercial banks are also being urged to rev up rolling out soft loan campaigns to raise the liquidity of export-orientated entrepreneurs.

The council also called on the government to help step up creating marketing and export opportunities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam and markets where demand for Thai goods remains strong such as the Middle East, while stabilising domestic energy prices to curb the impact on entrepreneurs and consumers.