The government has pledged to flex every muscle to stimulate exports in the remaining months of 2013 but admits chances of achieving the 7% growth target are very slim.
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Bunsongphaisan met on Thursday with the directors of 62 Thai trade centres worldwide.
During the meeting, he reiterated the government's call for these officials to help work out new export strategies, focusing on the top 10 export products in each market.
The ministry will meet again with the trade centres on Monday to re-evaluate the export trend for the rest of this year and 2014.
"Our exports have been declining for several months now on the back of the weak global economy, but we've resisted revising down the country's export growth forecast of 7% to 7.5% for this year," said Mr Niwatthamrong.
"We admit it will be tough to achieve."
He said that after Monday's session, his ministry will call a joint meeting with the Industry, Agriculture, and Tourism and Sports ministries to discuss how to boost exports and raise service sector revenue.
Exports fell for a third month in a row in July, declining by 1.48% year-on-year to US$19.1 billion, while imports rose by 1.08% to $21.3 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $2.28 billion.
In local currency, shipments dropped by 3.41% to 584 billion baht.
For the first seven months of this year, exports still managed to rise by 0.6% year-on-year to $132 billion, while imports totalled $150 billion, up by 3.85%.
The trade deficit for the period was $18.1 billion.
In local currency, exports saw a year-on-year drop of 3.68% to 3.92 trillion baht.
Shipments to all major destinations shrank during the period _ by 0.5% to the US, 3.7% to Japan, 3.8% to China, 0.5% to India, 3.7% to the Philippines, 5.39% to Britain and 5.2% to Taiwan.
Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said export value will likely return to positive growth in the fourth quarter.
She vowed that her department would try its best in the remaining months to stress expansion of product and service exports, particularly to Asean and the key markets.
It is also committed to stepping up support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the One Tambon One Product scheme to upgrade product and service quality.
Thanavath Phonvichai, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce's vice-president for research, said the latest UTCC survey found Thai SMEs are suffering heavily from dwindling competitiveness.
This is the main issue the government needs to address, particularly in terms of providing financial and distribution assistance, he said.
"The US Federal Reserve's decision to delay tapering its quantitative easing programme clearly reflects that the US economy has yet to recover, and this will continue to put pressure on Thai exports," said Mr Thanavath.
"What needs to be watched closely are investment activities in stocks and real estate that could affect the baht."
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter