Bangkok (NNT/VNA) - The Industrial Confidence Index (ICI) of Thailand has declined despite continued export growth, as businesses, especially SMEs, expressed concern over the upcoming minimum wage hike in April. 

President of the Federation of Thai Industries Jen Namchaisiri revealed that the February ICI polling 45 industrial sectors declined to 89.9 from 91 in January.

The decline was due to concerns over rising principle costs for raw materials, the upcoming wage hike, and greater competition. Exporters are also concerned about currency risks and potential trade barriers. 

Large businesses remained confident, thanks to an increase in purchase orders and sales abroad, especially in the auto and auto parts, food, electronics, and petrochemical industries. 

The auto industry in February reportedly produced more than 178,000 cars, an increase of 15.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Domestic car sales totalled over 75,000 vehicles, an increase of 10.3 percent while car exports hit over 102,000 vehicles, an increase of 4.05 percent.

Auto exports have expanded for the fourth straight month, with major buyers being the Middle East, Central and South America, and Australia.-VNA