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Thai exports to shrink 8% this year, baht climb a concern, say shippers

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Thailand's exports are still expected to contract 8 per cent this year as the coronavirus pandemic hits global trade, with a recent rise in the baht adding to the pressure, a Thai shipping association said on Tuesday.

[BANGKOK] Thailand's exports are still expected to contract 8 per cent this year as the coronavirus pandemic hits global trade, with a recent rise in the baht adding to the pressure, a Thai shipping association said on Tuesday.

Exports, a key driver of Thai growth, are likely to contract the sharpest in the current quarter before improving in the second half, Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of Thai National Shippers' Council, told reporters.

"But the strengthening baht is a worry," she said. "If it weakens, it will help exports from shrinking more than 8 per cent."

The group will discuss the strong baht with the Bank of Thailand (BOT) on Thursday, Ms Ghanyapad said.

On Monday, the BOT said it was worried about a rapid rise in the baht and was ready to take steps to curb it.

The baht traded at 31.55 baht per US dollar at 5.50am GMT, up about 1.60 per cent in the past two weeks. The currency, Asia's best performer in 2019, is down 5.2 per cent since the start of the year.

In January to April, exports rose 1.19 per cent from a year earlier. Excluding gold, shipments fell 5 per cent year-on-year, reflecting the underlying weakness in global trade amid the virus outbreak.

In 2019, South-east Asia's second-largest economy saw a 2.65 per cent drop in exports amid global trade tensions and a strong baht.

REUTERS

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