The Nation



Growth this year might be only 0.5%

Shippers warn 2014 growth would take a hit if political crisis not resolved

Exports are expected to grow at the most 0.5 per cent this year, considering shipments in the first 10 months and the tense political situation, according to the Thai National Shippers' Council.

Chairman Nopporn Thepsitthar said yesterday that if the last two months run lower than US$19.5 billion per month, export growth this year might be 0-0.5 per cent.

October was down 0.67 per cent to $19.39 billion.

Export growth in Thailand next year might recover to 5 per cent, due to the improving global economy. The US economy in 2014 is expected to expand 2.5 per cent, up from 1.6 per cent this year, while the EU is expected to expand 1.2 per cent from the forecast decline of 0.4 per cent this year. The Japanese economy is expected to glide along at 1.8 per cent, off the 2.5-per-cent tempo this year.

Vice chairman Vallop Vitanakorn said the political tensions have already taken a toll on orders next quarter, since many buyers declined to come to Thailand to negotiate contracts.

Some foreign buyers might have to switch orders from Thailand to Vietnam or Indonesia out of concern that Thailand will not be able to deliver them on time due to the political chaos.

If this heated political situation extends into January, it would affect the export sector until the second quarter of next year. If the strife does not end in January, export growth next year might not make the 5-per-cent forecast.

Despite the dismal export pace this year, the situation does not look that much worse than in other Asian countries.

Only four Asian countries are expected to show gains in exports this year - Vietnam with 15 per cent, China 13 per cent, India 5 per cent and Thailand 0.5 per cent or less.

The council's meeting yesterday agreed that shippers' councils in Asean should join forces to respond to the full realisation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

The council will invite its Vietnamese counterpart to attend its next meeting and will encourage Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia to set up their own shippers' council, he added.

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