(Adds comments on UK shop ban on Thai coconut products)
BANGKOK, July 7 (Reuters) – Thailand’s exports are expected to shrink 10% this year, deeper than the previous forecast of an 8% drop, due to the coronavious pandemic and the strength of the baht currency, a Thai shipping association said on Tuesday.
Global demand has yet to recover and there is a risk of a second wave of the pandemic, which could lead to lockdowns in trading partners, Ghanyapad Tantipipatpong, chairwoman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, told reporters.
“The strengthening baht is also making Thai products less competitive,” she said, adding the group would send a letter to the prime minister in a bid to help keep the currency at 34 baht per U.S. dollar.
The baht traded at 31.2 per dollar at 0833 GMT. It hit 30.79 on June 24, the strongest since late January.
The central bank recently said the baht’s strength could affect an economic recovery and it would consider more steps as necessary to curb it.
Visit Limluecha, president of the Thai Food Processors’ Association, said a ban by some British retailers on Thai coconut products over the use of monkey labour had yet to impact trade much, but it would if other countries followed suit.
Thailand needs to urgently address the issue, he said, adding the country had exported coconut milk worth $411 million last year, mainly to the United States, Australia and Britain.
The commerce minister said monkey labour for commercial products was almost non-existent and he would discuss the issue with coconut producers on Wednesday.
In the January-May period, the value of annual exports, a key driver of Thai growth, fell 3.71% in dollar terms and declined 5.18% in baht terms.
In 2019, Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy saw a 2.65% drop in exports amid global trade tensions and a strong baht. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Orathai Sriring; Editing by Ed Davies)