Manufacturing dips as pandemic persists, but beats forecast

Thailand’s manufacturing production index (MPI) in January dipped by 2.8 per cent year-on-year as the Covid-19 outbreak impacted domestic activity, the Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) reported Thursday.

“The industrial input in January stood at 101.82 points, rose 6.07 per cent from December, with an increase in capacity utilization rate to 66.41 per cent from 63.16 per cent last month,” said the OIE chief Thongchai Chawalitpichaet.

The figure came out better than Reuters’ forecast of a 4.4-per-cent year-on-year contraction. In December, the MPI dropped 2.44 per cent compared to a year earlier to 96.53 points.

Thongchai said that the economic outlook for the industrial sector could improve based on the timing of the Covid-19 vaccination both domestically and abroad, government stimulus measures, tourist arrivals, and eased restrictions in the controlled areas.

The industries that expanded year-on-year in January were plastic pellets, steel, furniture, animal food, and computer devices. Furniture manufacturing saw the biggest jump of 23.63 per cent year-on-year due to the work-from-home trend.

The OIE predicts the country’s MPI to grow 2-3 per cent this year and the GDP in the industrial sector to expand 2.5-3.5 per cent under the assumption of the exchange rate at 29-30 baht per USD and Dubai crude at USD 48-55 per barrel.

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