Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thai auto production projected to fall 23-24% in 2009

Bangkok, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Due to the rising global economic crisis, Thailand's automotive industry will contract this year as the country's automobile production is projected to fall around 23.0-24.0 percent, Thailand's Automotive Industry Club announced on Friday.

The projected 23-24 percent contraction represents a fall to around 1,100,000 units in 2009 from an estimated total production units of 2008 at 1,400,000 units, or, valuing at around 700 billion baht (20 billion U.S. dollar).

Speaking after an urgent meeting of Thailand's Automotive Industry Club, senior officials from the sector said amid the falling auto sale in many other major countries, they are closely monitoring a potential in the large-sized market of China and India.

"China and India are not directly affected by the crisis, so they (the markets) are still large and seen to have potential. So we are closely looking at them," said Suparat Sirisuwanangkura, president of The Thai Auto Industry Association told Xinhua. Suparat is also Toyota Motor Thailand's executive vice president.

The meeting was organized by the Club with representatives from all of automotive companies to brainstorm and seek short-term and long-term measures to deal with impacts from the prevailingly global economic crisis.

The meeting has initially agreed to propose the government both of short- and long- term measures. On the short-term measures, the Club will propose a value-added tax cut to 4-5 percent from the current 7 percent, and a cut on individual income tax and corporate income tax to boost the domestic consumption, said Suparat.

Also, the government should speed up its budget spending and mega project investments for the public sector, he said.

Meanwhile, the government should encourage banks to ease lending rules for both of the corporate sector and individuals experiencing the liquidity crunch, they said.

The Club will work in details for all of the measures and expects to propose to the government at the end of January, adding that the layoff will be the last thing, they will do.

The auto industry is the main sector in Thailand as many foreign auto firms have based their production plants, with export to over 100 countries around the world.

For 2009, if the auto sale falls to 1,100,000 units, the market worth will contract to stand at around 500-600 billion baht (17.14billion U.S. dollar), according to Piengjai Kaewsuwan, chairman of the Automotive Industry Club.

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