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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        16  March 2011

Thai exports likely to be reduced by quake

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The disaster in Japan may cause Thailand's exports to drop by US$1.47 billion or 44.1 billion baht from earlier projections this year, with the actual impact to be felt in the second half.

The disaster would reduce Japan's GDP growth by a half to a full percentage point this year from a projection of 1.6 percent growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund, said the Center for International Trade Studies at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.

Aat Pisanvanich, the centre's director, said Japan was the second largest export destination for Thailand so a 1 percent cut in its growth would mean a 7.2 percent reduction in exports to Japan, $735 million to $1.47 billion or 22-44.1 billion baht.

Therefore, overall exports from Thailand would be around 0.3 to 0.7 points lower than the projection of 12 percent this year. The projection has not yet taken into account the impact of Japan's economic growth on the global economy.

For farm products, the impacts include 7.5 percent on prepared meat and fish - which accounted for 7.4 percent of total exports to Japan - 6 percent on sugar and 8.7 percent on cereals. For industrial products, the impact will be seen in electrical machinery, nuclear reactors, rubber products, automobiles and cosmetics.

He said the short-term impacts would include the delay of new investment in Thailand since Japanese subsidiaries overseas may need to send their profits home to assist the parent companies.

Vasit Taepaisitphongse, chief operating officer of the food exporter Betagro Group, said its Japanese trading partners had indicated rising demand due to the closure of food factories in the north due to insufficient energy supply.

Japan now still has the food stocks sufficient for about three to four months but there are currently problems with distribution. Fuel supply has been reduced as a result of fires at its oil refineries.

"What our partners want is cooperation for continuous supply of products. They will try to place more orders at the old prices so we will try to fulfill their requests as best as we can," he said.

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