Good signs funiture sector sees resurgence in export this year
Despite the baht's appreciation, furniture exports are forecast to expand by 5 per cent to US$1.2 billion (Bt36 billion) this year, thanks to new emerging markets and the policy to promote Thailand as a hub of the Asean furniture industry.
"With good design and quality manufacturing, Thailand has become a centre of furniture production. Although labour costs have been increasing and the baht has been strengthening, local manufacturers have tried to adopt new technology and designs to cope with the tougher competition," Verachai Kanuvanicha-yanont, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries' Furniture Industry Club, said yesterday.
The outlook for furniture exports is improving this year as the US economy recovers and ASEAN and emerging countries become new markets, he said.
Thailand's furniture exports dropped slightly by 1 per cent to $1.04 billion last year.
The shortage of electricity expected in April should not obstruct furniture manufacturing, as factories are planning to save energy and ramp up production to build inventories before closing for the long weekend during Songkran, Verachai said.
Arak Suksawad, president of the Thai Furniture Industries Associa-tion, said the industry had to raise prices by 10-15 per cent because of higher wages and the stronger baht. An increase in retail prices has not hurt the industry's competitiveness, since many countries also face higher labour costs.
However, the expensive baht is one of the biggest worries, since it could constrain competitiveness throughout this year, he said.
To support furniture exports, the Thailand International Furniture Fair will be held from March 13-17 at Impact Muang Thong Thani.
Vuthichai Duangratana, deputy director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, expects the show to attract up to 20,000 visitors and generate sales of about Bt300 million.
This year's theme will be "Inspire Inside Out". It aims to convey the message that Thai furniture makers are capable and ready to adjust their creativity to produce products with unique designs.