The Nation



2013 industrial GDP growth likely to be flat

Expansion of Thai industrial gross domestic product this year is projected to be virtually flat at 0.2 per cent, along with a contraction of 3 per cent in the manufacturing production index (MPI), the head of the Office of Industrial Economics said yesterday.

However, industrial GDP growth and the MPI should improve to 3-4 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, next year - despite growth of only 1-2 per cent in the foods sector - due to continuing expansion in the automobile industry and projected export growth of nearly 16 per cent, said OIE director-general Somchai Harnhirun.

Supporting factors next year will be the gradually improving global economy, which should revive Thai exports in line with the improved economies of the Kingdom's trading partners, coupled with state investments in infrastructure projects amid a relatively low inflation environment, he said.

The key adverse factor remains weak domestic demand due to the slow rise in global agricultural goods prices, which negatively affects farmers' income.

Meanwhile, the lower-than-expected disbursement of state budgets forces the private sector to delay investments when interest rates have already passed the lowest mark, he added.

November's MPI stood at minus 10.6 per cent, with 63.14-per-cent capacity utilisation. The MPI for the January to November period was -2.9 per cent compared to the same period last year, with 64.77-per-cent capacity utilisation due to reduced output in the automobile, hard disk drive and canned/frozen seafood product sectors. The details for five major industrial sectors are as follows:

The automobile sector grew 4.09 per cent year on year from January to November. Despite a 5.36-per-cent domestic contraction, vehicle exports to Oceania, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Central America and South Africa grew by 10.13 per cent.

Next year's auto production is expected to rise to 2.6 million vehicles, up 3.75 per cent, comprising 1.3 million domestic sales, down by 0.69 per cent, and 1.3 million for exports, up 15.97 per cent.

l Consumer electrical appliances/electronics in January to November contracted by 6.05 per cent relative to the same period last year due to a 6.71-per-cent decline in the electronics sector, which is attributed to the rapid change in technology in the field of laptops and desktop computers.

The consumer electrical appliances sector shrank by 3.05 per cent, mostly due to household appliances. The consumer electrical appliances/electronics industry is projected to grow 1-3 per cent next year.

l Domestic demand in the iron and steel industry from January to November grew by 5.19 per cent year on year, while output grew by just 1.96 per cent due to the stabilising of domestic demand for steel in the second half of the year following a slowdown in the construction, electrical appliances, machinery and packaging sectors. The outlook for next year is for some volatility in steel demand, depending on the economic and political situation and the state of industries that utilise steel.

l The textiles and garments sector in the first 11 months of the year showed considerable growth in terms of production, domestic sales and exports, resulting in lower imports of yarns. Imports of lower-priced cloths from China had an adverse impact on the cloths sector, while ready-made garments were hit by the sluggish economies in Europe and the US.

The outlook for next year is expected to improve for yarn, textile and cloth production thanks to demand from Asean countries and Japan, while the growth of ready-made garments should be comparable to this year.

l The foods industry from January to November contracted by 0.1 per cent compared with the same period last year, while overall exports fell 6.2 per cent due to the shrimp-disease outbreak and the sluggish economies of key export markets such as the US and Europe. Overall foods production next year is expected to expand by 1-2 per cent.

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