BANGKOK: Thailand’s exports are expected to grow 5 percent this year, better than the 2.5-3.5 percent it had projected earlier, a group of shipping firms said on Tuesday, but added that a strong baht was a threat.
Exports between January and June rose 7.8 percent from a year earlier.
Shipments will be driven by stronger global demand, particularly for electronics, as trade partners’ economies are recovering, Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman, Thai National Shippers’ Council, told a briefing.
The commerce ministry and the central bank forecast exports, worth about two-thirds of the Thai economy, to rise 5 percent this year. Last year, exports rose 0.5 percent, the first annual rise in four years, customs data showed.
But a rally in the baht will have a big impact on export orders, particularly on those with domestic content, said council vice-chairman Visit Limluecha.
The baht traded at 33.27 per dollar on Tuesday, at its highest in more than two years. It has appreciated 7.6 percent against the greenback, making it Southeast Asia’s best-performing currency.
A joint committee on industry, commerce and banking had also voiced concerns about the local currency’s strength, which they say may not be short-lived.
The central bank should act on the strong baht, Jane Namchaisiri, president, Federation of Thai Industries, told Reuters.
“It is time to have measures to handle this, especially on capital movements, which I see as the key reason for the strong baht,” he said.
However, a central bank official said a strong baht is yet to affect trade competitiveness and the central bank’s export forecast for this year can be achieved.