Export growth to stay in single digits for two years
Export expansion will stay in single digits for two years, at 3.1-7.2 per cent per year, because of higher wages, the euro-zone credit crisis and slowdowns in Japan and China, according to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.The growth forecast by the university's International Trade Studies Centre is more pessimistic than the Commerce Ministry's projection of 8-9 per cent.
The baht's expected appreciation could also weigh on shipments abroad. The local unit could rise to 29 against the US dollar after the United States' policies for managing public debt and the fiscal deficit come out in March.
The Asean market will be the main hope for the export sector, since investment will be drawn to the region. However, exports will also suffer from tepid demand from the European Union, Japan and China, the centre predicted.
Aat Pisanwanich, the centre's director, said yesterday that slower global economic growth would cause difficulties for Thai exports. Improved wages will hit the manufacturing and service industries, as they will lose their competitive edge to higher labour costs than in less developed nations.
The study forecasts exports declining to the EU, Japan Taiwan and South Asia. Shipments to China would be up by about 3 per cent, and to the United States by about 5 per cent.
China, which is one of the major markets for Thai exports, will see its orders from the United States, the European Union and Japan, which take about 41.26 per cent of its shipments, dry up, according to the |centre.
Thai exports to Asean are expected to increase by just over 8 per cent. Thailand's share of exports to Asean is expected to improve from 35.9 per cent last year to about 50 per cent this year.
The new Bt300 daily minimum wage will drive up manufacturing pay by about 30 per cent and service pay by 23 per cent, the centre says. Industries that will be hit hardest are food, beverages and tobacco, up by 34 per cent; garments by 33 per cent; wood products including furniture by 32 per cent; rubber products and plastics by 27 per cent; concrete, ceramic, tile and glass by 24 per cent; steel and machinery by 19 per cent; and printing by 17 per cent.
Rice, garments and frozen shrimp are categorised by the centre as sunset industries for this year. It considers frozen chicken, tapioca, automobiles and electrical appliances sunrise industries, while the rubber and furniture industries are caught in the middle with higher competitiveness but weakening demand globally.