Bangkok (VNA) – The Thai National Shippers Council (TNSC) remains optimistic about Thailand’s export recovery this year despite the new wave of COVID-19 infections is expected to further affect the export sector.

TNSC president Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong on January 5 said the council expects Thai exports will rebound to 3 – 4 percent in 2021, driven by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, COVID-19 vaccine progress and a fast economic recovery in China. The TNSC estimated Thai exports plunged more than 7 percent last year.

She forecast a positive outlook for exports of food, medical supplies, rubber gloves, apparel, machinery, auto parts, oil, rice and work-from-home products

The COVID-19 resurgence will have a slight impact on the country’s export this year, she said, adding that there is likely a shortage of labourers in agriculture due to lockdowns in the provinces of Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong Chanthaburi and Trat where fisheries and food processing industries largely reply on foreign workers.

She pinpointed main points that will negatively affect Thailand’s export sector this year, namely a shortage of containers and rise in freight rate; appreciation of the baht and a new wave of a more severe COVID-19 outbreak in its key trade partners.

In order to deal with these problems, she said the government should launch urgent measures to mitigate the outbreak’s impact on businesses, such as cutting fees and extending the period of soft loans for local producers.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the country’s November export exceeded 18.9 billion USD, down 3.65 percent year on year, while import was close to 18.9 billion USD, down 0.99 percent year on year.

Exports for the first 11 months of last year shrank 6.92 percent year-on-year to 211.38 billion USD, while import declined 13.7 percent to nearly 188 billion USD, resulting in a 23.51 billion USD trade surplus./.