Ministry sees repeat 15% growth
FTAs, return of GSP both give a boost
The Export Promotion Department expects Thailand's export growth to continue at its 15-per-cent pace through the second quarter of the year thanks to positive factors including the reinstatement of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) to the European market and low import tariffs under free-trade agreements with several trading partners.
The department's director-general, Chantra Purnariksha, said the projection was based on export growth maintaining the same rate of 15 per cent recorded in the first quarter.
The first-quarter performance of 15-per-cent growth saw the value of Thai exports in the three-month period reach US$28.97 billion (Bt1.1 trillion).
The value of exports in the second quarter is forecast to total $30.62 billion, compared with $26.63 billion in the corresponding period last year, an increase of 13.27 per cent.
The department said the country's exports normally increased sharply in the third quarter. Last year's third-quarter growth rate was 22.08 per cent. However, exports normally decline in the fourth quarter due to the long holiday period.
Overall, the country's export growth is expected to be 17.5 per cent for the whole year, bringing the value of Thai exports to $130 billion.
Chantra said a key factor encouraging export growth this year was the European Union's reinstated GSP, which has strengthened Thailand's export competitiveness and granted special privileges to major goods including canned food, gems and jewellery and plastic products.
"We are encouraging exporters of those products to use maximum benefits from the GSP privilege to bolster exports," she said.
In another effort to boost overseas trade, the department is considering using the benefits of low import tariffs under free-trade agreements to re-export goods from free-trade partners to third countries.
"We are drawing up a new export-promotion strategy named 'trading base' to strengthen Thailand's export competitiveness," she said, adding that the department had proposed the plan to some free-trade partners, among them Australia.
Chantra said the department would also launch a "mainstream distribution channels" promotion strategy, under which Thai goods would be exported directly to major superstores, supermarkets and chain stores in China such as Lotus, Wal-Mart, Jusco, Trust Mart and Carrefour.
The strategy will focus on exports of fresh, dried and ready-to-eat food products, as well as kitchenware.
The department has also contacted many other department-store chains, including Kaufhof in Germany, Lotte in Korea and Carrefour, which has hundreds of outlets in Europe, with a view to direct exports of Thai goods.
She said that despite the optimistic outlook the country's exports were at the mercy of rising oil prices, fluctuating exchange rates and unpredictable disasters, any one of which could increase production costs.
Chantra said a fair exchange rate was Bt38-Bt39 to the US dollar.