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18 July 2009

Thai export rebound seen in second half 

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The world's biggest ships are heading for Thailand for the first time, sent by an Israeli shipping firm and raising hopes of a rebound in Thai exports in the second half of the year, Reuters quoted officials and exporters as saying Friday.

A vessel with capacity of 8,000-10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) is due to reach Thailand's Laem Chabang port on July 23 to load goods ranging from rice to electronics and pick-up trucks, destined for the Americas, a senior official at the Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) told Reuters.

"Another mega-vessel will come on Aug. 6. It signals that more Thai produce will be shipped to clients in the second half of the year, reflecting better demand," said Nipon Petchtul, the PAT vessel operations controller.

He said it was an initiative of an Israeli-based shipping firm, Zim, to send such huge vessels to Thailand for the first time, anticipating a rise in demand.

Israeli shipping firm Zim, a unit of holding company Israel Corp (ILCO.TA), said on Monday it had received the first of 12 vessels it had ordered to meet an anticipated surge in demand as the global economy recovers.

A few more such vessels were expected to operate in Thailand, transporting Thai products to several destination in the Pacific region, Nipon said.

Thai exports, which fell a record 26.5 percent in May from a year earlier, were expected to recover slightly in the second half of 2009, with traders and officials expecting an average contraction of around 15 percent for the whole year.

Traders and exporters said they expected to receive more orders in the second half as buyers would have to order stocks to serve demand during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

"For rice, I expect we could sell more as it seems like India will keep its ban on rice exports," said Chookiat Ophaswongse, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association.

Pornsil Patchrintanakul, deputy secretary-general of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, broadly agreed with that but was cautious about the overall export trend.

"I don't think food and farm exports will be too bad in the second half. However, I don't really expect a sharp rise in exports by the end of this year," he said.


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