Mr Sontirat, speaking at a seminar on Monday, said the Commerce Ministry will work closely with the private sector to boost exports and explore new markets. (Photo by Mornthep Chotechalermpong)
Despite risks from the escalating trade war between China and the US, the Commerce Ministry remains positive Thailand’s exports to China will grow by more than 10% this year, boosting the country’s overall shipments to a 9% gain.
Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said on Monday Thailand’s exports will definitely exceed 8% growth as projected by the ministry, helped by the growing economies of key trading partners, including China.
Mr Sontirat’s remarks were delivered at a seminar titled “Opening the Gate to South China”, organised by the Commerce Ministry, International Trade Promotion Department, Foreign Trade Department, the New Economy Academy and Post Today newspaper.
“Earlier this year the ministry predicted export growth of 8% in 2018, but after consultations with the private sector we expect 9% growth or higher,” he said.
The ministry plans to call a joint meeting of Thai trade officials and international commercial counsellors from overseas operations worldwide in October this year to evaluate the export outlook and adjust the forecast.
The Commerce Ministry recently reported Thai exports rose 10.6% for the first seven months of 2018 to US$146.23 billion. Exports in baht terms also edged up 1.2% from the same period of last year to 4.59 trillion baht. Imports rose accordingly for the period by 14.8% to $143.29 billion, yielding a trade surplus of $2.93 billion.
Thailand’s exports rose in all markets, notably for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Asean, South Asia, Japan and Europe.
Mr Sontirat said to maintain export growth momentum the Commerce Ministry will work more closely with the private sector to boost exports and explore new markets; retain export growth in traditional key markets, develop e-commerce and expand the Chinese market.
“China is considered one of the most important export markets for Thailand,” he said. “China is Thailand’s largest trade partner, with promising export prospects thanks to high Chinese purchasing power and the mainland’s aggressive investment in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
For the first seven months, Thailand’s shipments to China amounted to $17.31 billion, up 6.9% from the same period last year, making up for 11.8% of the total export values.
The ministry has set a target to grow the country’s exports to China by more than 10% this year from $29.5 billion.
Mr Sontirat said the ministry also gives equal importance to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), given the fact that SMEs are the core of the world’s current economic development.