Several Thai industries are expected to grow in 2020 despite a global economic slowdown, according to speakers at an industrial conference in Bangkok.
Companies from the logistics, food, and technology sectors remained optimistic on the back of trade wars, uncertain political situations, and a sluggish national economy.
Speaking at a conference in Bangkok, Jareeporn Jarukornsakul, Chairwoman and Group Executive Officer of WHA Corporation pointed out that China will be and has been outsourcing its manufacturing to the region.
Although Vietnam has taken the bulk of China’s manufacturing outsourcing, Thailand can still cash in, especially for electronic manufacturers.
Jareeporn estimates that at least half of the total investment that is coming into Thailand will be geared towards the Eastern Economic Corridor, a special zone designated by the government for economic development.
Jareeporn also expressed optimism that Thailand will become an e-commerce hub that attracts many international companies, including Alibaba Group and Shopee. This will lead to growth in the logistics and supply chain sector to support those companies, she said.
According to the latest Google/Temasek e-Conomy report, Thailand’s e-commerce market value is expected to surge from US$3 billion in 2018 to US$13 billion by 2025.
For the region, the value of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce market reached US$23.3 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue to grow to US$103 billion within the same time period.
Adapting the agriculture sector
Visit Limlurcha, President of the Thai Food Processors Association told the conference that the ongoing drought had greatly impacted the agricultural industries. So much so that Thailand needs to import resources from neighbouring countries to boost the food processing industry.
The Thai Meteorological Department expects drought-like patterns to continue this year putting a further drag on the country’s agricultural sector, which is already under pressure from falling crop prices and the slowdown of global demand. Crop production is the most important sub-sector in the industry, accounting for 60 per cent of total agricultural production.
“When there was a strong demand for durian, many provinces started to grow them. But with large numbers in stock, people need to transform them to keep the quality. Fried, dried and freeze-dried products are necessary,” he said.
Mr. Visit added that as Thailand ages and becomes a top-heavy demographic, there will be new trends for foods. Industries specialising in health foods, food for the elderly, local foods, and even esoteric start-ups in insect protein will continue to grow.
The development of technology can also support the industries, according to Wichian Premchaiswad, Vice President of the Digital Council of Thailand. With the arrival of 5G connectivity, smart farming through innovation can help alleviate the drought situation, boosting agricultural products within the country.
Trouble for Tourism
Chairat Trirattanajarasporn, President of the Tourism Council of Thailand said that a strengthened baht was adversely affecting tourism within the country. The baht was Asia’s best performing currency, with nearly a 9 per cent rise against the greenback in 2019. At the same time, tourists are also changing their behaviour. Most no longer travel with travel agencies, resulting in fewer group tours.
Last year, the Council predicted that the number of tourists could reach 40 million, but the number fell slightly short at 39.7 million.