Thai shippers retain export growth outlook of 1-2% this year

FILE PHOTO: The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s exports are likely to grow 1% to 2% this year, unchanged from a previous forecast, due to slowing global demand, the country’s shippers’ council said on Tuesday.

Shipments, a key driver of economic growth, also face high currency volatility, Chaichan Chareonsuk, chair of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, told a news conference.

“There are several negative factors but we see some positive factors from China’s recovery,” he said.

Exports are expected to contract 3.7% in the first quarter from a year earlier before recovering to a 0.7% dip in the second quarter and posting gains in the second half of the year, the group said in a statement.

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Exporters wanted the baht currency to ideally be around 34-35 per dollar to help with trade competitiveness and be in line with regional currencies, Chaichan said.

Despite a sharp fall on Monday, the baht has still gained by 3% against the dollar so far this year, becoming Asia’s best performing currency. It was trading at around 33.6 per dollar on Tuesday.

The shippers’ group also urged the central bank to ensure the baht was stable and interest rates were at appropriate levels, Chaichan said.

In 2022, customs-based exports rose 5.5%.

(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)