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December 19, 2008

Thai car output seen dropping 20% in 2009

Thailand's car manufacturing production is likely to fall by 20 percent next year as the global economic crisis bites, AFP quoted the Federation of Thai Industry (FTI) as saying Thursday.

"The trend for the auto market next year is obviously negative in both domestic and foreign markets. The downward trend has already started this quarter," said Piengjai Kaewsuwan, chairman of the FTI's Automotive Industry Club.

The announcement follows poor car sales in Thailand. They fell 20.2 percent in November, the sixth consecutive month of decline and the steepest of the year.

But Ninnart Chaithirapinyo, a senior industry representative, said the slowdown in production was the result of mostly global factors rather than domestic concerns.

"Next year we expect high volatility of currency exchanges, oil prices and stock markets, which are likely to affect the global economy and Thai auto exports too," Ninnart said.

Thailand's car manufacturing industry accounts for about 16 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

General Motors in Thailand said last month it would halt assembly for two months at its plant in the eastern province of Rayong and shed 250 staff due to slow demand as efforts by its struggling parent company to obtain a US bailout faltered.

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