BANGKOK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Thai exports are expected to grow
by 3% to 4% this year as the global economy recovers, but a
stubbornly strong baht currency remains a worry, the shippers'
council said on Tuesday.
Exports, a key driver of Thai growth, could perform better
than expected on vaccine developments and if the government
provides more support, Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of
the Thai National Shippers' Council, told a briefing.
"Last year's exports were quite satisfactory, declining less
than expected, at 6%, suggesting an economic recovery in some
countries," she said. "So we think the trade picture this year
should not be worse".
However, exports might not be good in the first quarter due
to a container shortage and the strength of the baht,
she said. The baht traded at 29.97 against the U.S. dollar at
0646 GMT and has gained 10.6% since last April.
"If the baht appreciates to 28 per dollar, as many have
predicted, it will definitely hit exports," she said, adding the
group wanted the central bank to keep the currency competitive.
A military coup in Myanmar had yet to affect Thailand's
trade with borders remaining open and most exports to the
neighbouring country consisting of consumer goods, said council
vice chairman Visit Limluecha.
He noted there had been a history of military interventions
in politics in Myanmar over the last few decades, but said "we
will monitor if there is any medium to long-term impact."
Last year, exports to Myanmar was worth about $3.8 billion,
or 1.6% of Thailand's total shipments.
(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin
Writing by Orathai Sriring
Editing by Ed Davies)