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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        8  April 2011

Disasters hit Thai SMEs

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The gross domestic product (GDP) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is expected to grow by only 4.2 percent, less than earlier forecasts of 6 percent due to southern floods and the Japanese disaster, says Yuthasak Supasorn, director of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep).

"The tsunami in Japan has hurt auto parts and electronics SMEs whose production has been temporarily halted, plus the tourism sector has also been affected. But the food sector will export more due to fears of radiation [from Japanese food]," he said.

However, Japanese investment would benefit Thailand in the longer term as more SMEs in Japan will start moving here from year-end, said Mr. Yuthasak.

He said overall Thai GDP would experience modest growth of 4 percent, while that of SMEs would grow by 4.2 percent, down from 7.9 percent growth last year.

The figure is calculated on the basis of a currency exchange rate of 29-31 baht to the US dollar and an oil price of about $100 a barrel, he said.

Meanwhile, the flooding in eight southern provinces _ Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, Trang, Chumphon, Songkhla, Krabi and Phangnga _ since late last month has affected 36,580 SMEs or 12.8 percent of the total in the area and caused an estimated 2 billion baht worth of damage.

Most are in the agricultural sector such as oil palm, rubber, fruit and shrimp.

"If the flooding clears up before Songkran, then the damage to tourism will be in the range of a billion baht. But if it extends past Songkran, the damage will be close to two billion," said Mr. Yuthasak, adding that hotel reservations had declined by 80 percent, resulting in losses of 800-900 million baht.

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