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US, EU woes fail to dampen Thai outlook

Despite continuing economic problems in the US and Europe, the Commerce Ministry remains confident that export growth will reach 15% next year generating a total of US$224 billion in revenue.

Addressing a meeting in Bangkok of trade officials stationed abroad, Commerce Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said this year’s exports will certainly meet the 15% goal after recording 25.7% growth in the first seven months.

Some countries are showing signs of a slowdown, which will likely continue for another two or three years.

Mr Kittiratt said that while the slowdown would have some effect on Thai exports, manufacturers will still be able to compete with products from other countries.

Asian exports in general are enjoying strong growth despite the global economic problems, he said.

Breaking down Thailand’s growth target for major markets next year, 10% growth is forecast for Thai exports to Japan, the US, the EU and Africa and 20% for fellow Asean members plus China, India and South Korea.

Mr Kittiratt asked all trade officials working abroad to help find proven technologies that could help improve Thai manufacturing efficiency.

They should also help source high-quality products in their assigned countries for import here to help balance bilateral trade.

Phaichit Viboontanasarn, minister for commercial affairs at the Thai Embassy in Beijing, said exports to China would rise by 25% this year, exceeding the previous forecast of 20% as the Chinese economy beats its 8% growth target.

The Department of Export Promotion will next year aim for at least 25% export growth to China to send a signal Thai entrepreneurs that the government wants to support this market.

He said China planned to focus more on domestic consumption and major infrastructure improvements, and the strengthening yuan may mean the country will have to import more goods to serve the needs of the local population.

Mr Phaichit urged Thailand to pay more attention to second- and third-tier Chinese cities such as Nanjing and Shenyang, which will be along a planned high-speed rail system.

Pakaisakdi Svastisinha, minister for commercial affairs at the Thai Embassy in Paris, said ongoing economic problems in the EU will result in lower purchasing power, but the effects may not be fully felt this year, especially in France.

Exports to France will grow by 12% or more than US$1 billion this year but only by 8% next year, he said.

“Exporters targeting the EU should focus on products that can be sold in the market and not necessarily new products,” Mr Pakaisakdi added.

Somjin Plengkhum, executive director of the Thai Trade Center in New York, said that if the US government proceeds with its $447-billion job stimulus plan, then exports to this market could grow by 10% this year and 15% next year.

However, US importers are concerned that baht appreciation could make Thai products too expensive, he said.

Source: Bangkok Post

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