Virus outbreaks at Thai factories threaten export sector, recovery

  • 1 year ago
Virus outbreaks at Thai factories threaten export sector, recovery
A series of coronavirus outbreaks in Thai factories is raising concerns that the export sector could be hit hard, threatening to further undermine an economy as it struggles to recover from the pandemic’s crippling blow to the crucial tourism industry.
The virus has swept through over 130 factories, including those supplying international brands, with more than 7,100 cases across 11 provinces, making manufacturing one of the top sources of infections along with prisons and construction camps.
The affected plants are just a fraction of about 63,000 factories in Thailand that employ 3.4 million, government data shows, but officials worry about the impact on exports that have kept the struggling economy moving as income from tourism has collapsed.
In 2020, exports accounted for 45% of gross domestic product. The tourism-reliant economy, a global trade hub, suffered a steep 6.1% contraction last year, and last month the government trimmed GDP growth forecast for this year to 1.5%-2.5% from 2.5%-3.5% previously.
Electronics, rubber gloves, and food are among the export sectors hit by infections, Federation of Thai Industries vice chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul told Reuters, but he said it was too early to assess the overall impact.
“If it continues the damage will increase so factories have to be fully vaccinated,” he said.
Already, some of the manufacturers affected by the outbreak have had to curtail production.
Charoen Pokphand foods Pcl (CPF.BK), which exports to 40 countries from Thailand, said a factory that was closed due to infections accounted for 10% broiler chicken production.
Source: Reuters