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August 5, 2007

Private sector, ministry agree to revise projections up
Thailand's private business sector has no objection with Commerce Ministry's plan to upwardly revise the country's export projections to 15% from 12.5% for 2007.

Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) chairman Pramon Sutheewong said he welcomed the plan by Commerce Minister Krirkkrai Jirapaet to upwardly revise this year's export performance to 15%, equivalent to $145 billion, as exports during the first half of 2007 have already risen 18% with earnings of about $70 billion.

There is a possibility that exports could sustain growth during the second half of 2007 and total exports this year would grow not less than 15 per cent, he said. The planned revision in export growth plus the appreciation of the baht to around Bt33.50-34.00 against the dollar would force small Thai industries to adjust, while major industries such as automotive and computer production could continue to face the impact from the currency for a period of time.

Three private business organisations plan to meet on August 6 to discuss how to effectively use a 5 billion baht fund earlier approved by the Bank of Thailand earlier to help small- and medium-sized enterprises to benefit the entrepreneurs, and regarding payments in the form of US currency, Mr. Pramon said.

Echoing TCC chairman Pramon's views on the revision of export projections was Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of the Rice Exporters Association. However, Mr. Chookiat cautioned that industries depending heavily on local raw materials, for example, the agricultural sector, will be hurt from the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations and thus miss their export targets this year.

The export target for rice this year is set at 8.5 million tons but the country could at best export only about 8 million tons due to the overly strong baht, Mr. Chookiat said. The government should try to keep the baht at around 35-36 baht against the dollar and not to allow it to move to 33 baht a dollar because local exporters would lose competitiveness against exporters in neighbouring countries. TNA


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