THE THAI National Shippers’ Council (TNSC) has set the year’s export growth target at 9 per cent while closely following developments of the on-going trade war between US and China as well as appreciation of the Thai baht.
Exports stood at US$22 billion in August, growing at an average rate of 6.7 per cent in the past 18 months. Meanwhile, imports amounted to US$23 billion during the month, growing at a rate of 22.8 per cent. As such, Thailand posted a trade deficit of US$ 500 million in August, according to Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, Chairman of the TNSC.
Thailand exported US$169 billion from January to August this year, an increase of of up to 10 per cent while imports amounted to US$ 166 billion, rising 15.9 per cent, resulting in a trade surplus of US$ 2 billion for the eight-month period, Ghanyapad said.
Exports have been growing steadily, especially to Asean, CLMV, India, and South Asia. Agricultural goods such as fruit and rice, and manufacturing goods including cars are Thailand’s main export items. Meanwhile, exports to China have slowed down by 2.3 per cent.
Shipments have continued to grow in the past eight months. However, risks have emerged from the geopolitical instability in the middle east, appreciation of the baht, and trade barriers between countries.
The Consumer Confidence Index in September showed a decline for the first time in the past four months, mainy due to rising oil prices, US-China trade tensions and the sharp drop in prices of some agricultural goods.
The September index retreated to 82.3 from 83.2 in August in the first drop in four months. The decline can be attributed to the drop in rice and rubber prices and the reduction in the number of Chinese tourists visiting the kingdom, according to Thanavath Phonvichai, director of the Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting, University of Thai Chamber and Commerce.
Furthermore, the on-going trade war between US and China is accelerating, leading to a fall in purchasing power. The Consumer Confidence Index is currently lower than the normal level of 100, reflecting the attitudes of consumers who are worried about the state of the economy that has yet to recover significantly. Thailand has set the target for economic growth at 4.5 to 4.6 per cent as it is expected that the number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand will recover in November this year. Furthermore, increased political activities will help support the Thai economy.
The total Economic Sentiment Index is at 69.4 from 70.2 last month. Job Applicant Confidence Index is at 77.6 from 78.3 last month. The Confidence Index in Future Income is at 100 from 101.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Monetary Policy Committee predicts that Thailand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by 4.4 per cent this year and 4.2 per cent next year. They predict that overall, the Thai economy will continue to grow steadily, and will maintain an interest rate at 1.5 per cent. Exports in August have grown by 6.68 per cent while the Thai baht has slightly appreciated.