Exports seen up 3-4% this year, but strong baht weighs -shippers

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers stand at a port in Bangkok, March 25, 2016. (Reuters)

Thailand’s exports are expected to grow by 3% to 4% this year as the global economy recovers, but a stubbornly strong baht currency remains a worry, the shippers’ council said on Tuesday.

Exports, a key driver of growth, could perform better than expected on vaccine developments and if the government provides more support, Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, told a briefing.

“Last year’s exports were quite satisfactory, declining less than expected, at 6%, suggesting an economic recovery in some countries,” she said. “So we think the trade picture this year should not be worse”.

However, exports might not be good in the first quarter due to a container shortage and the strength of the baht, she said. The baht traded at 29.97 against the US dollar at 1.48pm and has gained 10.6% since last April.

“If the baht appreciates to 28 per dollar, as many have predicted, it will definitely hit exports,” she said, adding the group wanted the central bank to keep the currency competitive.

A military coup in Myanmar had yet to affect Thailand’s trade with borders remaining open and most exports to the neighbouring country consisting of consumer goods, said council vice chairman Visit Limluecha.

He noted there had been a history of military interventions in politics in Myanmar over the last few decades, but said “we will monitor if there is any medium to long-term impact.”

Last year, exports to Myanmar was worth about 114 billion baht, or 1.6% of Thailand’s total shipments. 

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