Thailand’s car exports have room to grow next year by replacing shipments from Japan as it battles yen appreciation, according to Fukujiro Yamabe, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce (JCC) in Bangkok. Mr Yamabe, who is also the president of Mitsubishi Co (Thailand), said automobile exports are expected grow slowly in 2009 after strong progress the past decade, as purchasing power drops in all overseas destinations.
Logo of Mitsubishi Motors Corp is displayed at its headquarters in Tokyo.REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao(JAPAN)
By Nareerat Wiriyapong
”Thailand, however, has some advantages in terms of production costs compared to other countries, especially Japan. Car exports will have consecutive growth for sure next year but not as big as in 2008 as export markets slow down,” he said. ”[However] the Thai exchange rate is competitive when compared to Japanese yen, so there is a good chance that Thai exports could replace those shipped from Japan.”
Domestic vehicle sales should grow at a slower pace next year. Despite the weakening economy, vehicle demand in Thailand is healthy compared to other countries, he said.
Japanese companies are also suffering from the credit crunch and have to reduce their investments. Toyota cut its net profit forecast by 24% from estimates three months ago to $6 billion.
Almost every company is reviewing its investments, he said.
Mr Yamabe said Mitsubishi Motor was also considering reviewing its investment plan in the eco-car project in Thailand. ”But I don’t think the project will change.”
Mr Yamabe forecast total car production in Thailand would fall 18% to 1.2 million units next year on pressure from the global financial crisis decreasing domestic and overseas demand.