The government says Thai shipments of washing machines and solar cells will take a hit from recently approved US tariffs designed to protect American manufacturers.
Wanchai Varavitha, deputy director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said Thailand enjoyed continuous export growth in the two items from 2012 to 2017.
According to the Customs Department, export value for solar cells and parts rose to US$432.33 million in 2017, compared with $9.29 million in 2012, while washing machine exports rose to $191.07 million in 2017 from $11.46 million in 2012.
Solar cells and washing machines from Thailand make up 6.7% and 22.9%, respectively, of US imports in those categories.
“We’re now afraid that the US safeguard tariffs will lower exports of the two products,” Mr Wanchai said. “We recommend that Thai manufacturers and exporters rev up exploring new markets to offset the impact of the US protectionist measures.”
US President Donald Trump on Monday approved safeguard tariffs on imports of large residential washing machines and solar cells and modules, a measure that would protect domestic manufacturers and disadvantage mostly Chinese and South Korean makers.
Mr Trump’s action followed recommendations by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, based on findings by the International Trade Commission, which said US producers had been seriously injured by imports.
It will be the first time for the US to issue safeguard tariffs on foreign products since 2002, according to US press accounts.
The Economic Intelligence Center (EIC), a research unit under Siam Commercial Bank, expects the US measures to trim Thailand’s export growth for overall electronics and electrical appliances by about 1%.
As the US is the major market for the two products in question, the research house estimates that the US measures will cut the export value of washing machines and solar cells by $350 million and $300 million, respectively.
The EIC said washing machine makers like Samsung and LG adjusted beforehand by opening factories in the US.