BANGKOK: Thailand's key exports could decrease by as much as 300 billion baht (US$9 billion) in the remaining months of the year if the spread of COVID-19 infections continues at factories, the country's exporters' group said on Tuesday (Aug 3).
Since April, Thailand has been struggling to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has prompted stricter containment measures and expanded lockdowns as cases surge.
"The manufacturing sector has been affected a lot more by this outbreak ... and exports are in the supply chain," Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, told a press briefing.
Exports, a rare key bright spot in the economy, might grow by just 7 per cent this year if the outbreak cannot be contained, he added, below the group's growth target of 10 per cent.
In the first half of 2021, exports rose 15.5 per cent from a year earlier.
However, workers in more than 1,500 factories in Thailand have been infected with COVID-19, according to Chaichan.
Four key labour-intensive exporting industries - food, electronic parts, autos parts and textiles - have been particularly hit, Chaichan said, with an expected loss of 200 billion to 300 billion baht in the remaining months of the year.
With that loss, overall exports will grow just 7 per cent this year, or US$19.2 billion a month, while there is demand for Thai goods worth US$22.2 billion to US$23 billion a month. Chaichan added: "Although there are already orders, we can't get them."
"Last month, exporters were concerned about COVID. But right now, they are stressed," Chaichan said.