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Thai exports back in positive territory after best performance in 17 months

Stronger baht remains concern, but Kingdom 'on target' for 3.5% growth

Thailand's overseas shipments in June rebounded into positive territory of 7.2-per-cent growth year on year, thanks to economic recovery in major markets and strong export promotion, Commerce Ministry permanent secretary Chutima Bunyapraphasara said yesterday.

However, exporters are concerned about the stronger baht, which could affect shipments over the remainder of the year.

After opening the "Organic and Natural Symposium" in Bangkok yesterday, Chutima said June's improved export performance was a promising sign for the months to come.

"Recovering economic growth and higher import demand in many markets such as the European Union and the United States will ensure that Thailand should achieve at least 3.5-per-cent export expansion, as targeted, this year," she said.

Shipments last month grew 7.2 per cent, the strongest year-on year expansion in 17 months. Exports had declined 1.22 per cent in the first five months of the year.

The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to announce officially the exact export-import figures for June on Monday.

Chutima told the symposium that with rising health consciousness, Thailand would be able to export more organic products to the world market.

The ministry hopes to help drive the export of organic products to Bt5 billion in the next few years, from the current annual level of Bt3.1 billion, she added.

Vallop Vitanakorn, vice chairman of the Thai National Shippers Council, said the country's exports were now on a continuous expansion path due to high demand in the global market, as evidenced by rising demand for shipping containers.

However, he said businesses were worried about the baht's appreciation, which could affect export orders in the fourth quarter because of higher goods prices.

"Thai exporters are currently quoting their goods based on Bt32 per US dollar, but the baht's value has appreciated to 31 to the dollar. They may need to increase their retail prices to offset the baht's appreciation," he said.

Despite higher export growth, Vallop said it would still be difficult to meet the official 2014 export-growth goal of 3.5 per cent because of the negative export performance earlier in the year.

To achieve the target, average shipment value needs to reach $20.5 billion a month during the second half of the year, he said. Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of the Board of Trade of Thailand, said exports should continue to grow because of stronger economic expansion in many of the Kingdom's key markets.

Shipments in the current quarter are expected by the Board of Trade to grow by 3-4 per cent, and in the fourth quarter by 5 per cent, which would resulted in full-year expansion of 2-2.5 per cent, he said.

He added that the business sector now had more confidence in the country's economic-growth prospects after the Board of Investment's approval of many projects, higher employment demand and increasing consumer confidence.


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