New export markets set pace
New markets should keep exports above target
Thailand's exports are likely to exceed targets in 2008, thanks to a shift to new markets including Africa, Indochina and Eastern Europe, according to the Export-Import Bank of Thailand (Exim).
Exports have held up despite the slowdown in the United States. The dollar value of shipments totalled $87.2 billion in the first half of the year, a 23% year-on-year increase.
Exports to so-called new markets _ those excluding the US, the EU and Japan _ increased 31% year-on-year in the first half.
Shipments to Africa expanded by 60% in value, Indochina 57% and Eastern Europe 32%. Exports to new markets stood at 48% of the total in the first half of the year, compared with 37% in all of 2007.
''The exports could easily exceed the Commerce Ministry's target of 12.5% (growth) this year. And they could surpass 20% year-on-year growth, if the existing momentum maintains in the second half of the year,'' Exim said in a recent report.
Cement, printing products, paper and pulp, chemicals, jewellery, tapioca, electronic goods and rice were among the top export products in the first half of the year.
Good commodities prices have been another positive factor for exports this year, compared with last year when growth was seen more in volume than in prices. Rice prices this year have increased 50%, tapioca 60% and rubber 30% year-on-year in the first half.
The baht depreciation trend that began in the second quarter has also contributed to robust exports. The baht has weakened because of an eroding current account surplus due to high oil imports.
In addition, Thai businesses have benefited from higher operating costs in eastern China due to higher labour wages. The yuan's appreciation by 7% since the beginning of the year has also dampened investor interest in China.
''The factors in China will become opportunities for Thai labour-intensive businesses such as textiles, toys and sports apparel,'' the report said.
Locally based multinational corporations in high-technology industry accounted for 60% of total exports, the report noted.