Thai exports seen growing 3%-5% in 2021: shippers’ council

BANGKOK (Reuters): Thai exports are expected to grow 3% to 5% next year after a contraction of up to 7% in 2020, the shippers’ council said on Tuesday (Dec 8), helped by free trade agreements and developments on Covid-19 vaccines, though concerns about a strong baht persist.

“Signing of the RCEP agreement is good news for exporters,” Jintana Sirisantana, secretary general of the Thai National Shippers’ Council said, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade agreement.

News of an effective vaccine and China’s economic recovery also would help exports recover, she added.

Exports, a key driver of the Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, are expected to contract 6% to 7% in 2020, the group said, adding exports should recover to pre-Covid levels by 2022.

However, an appreciating baht posed a challenge for the recovery.

“We are afraid that short-term capital inflows are appreciating the baht,” Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, the council’s chairwoman, told a virtual briefing.

The baht is currently trading at 30.12 per US dollar, around an 11-month high.

“The barrier should be at 30 baht because surpassing it would have a sentiment factor, which could further strengthen the currency,” said Ghanyapad.