BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's exports in the first quarter are likely to show a contraction of 10% from a year earlier, compared with a previous forecast drop of 8%, the country's shippers' council said on Tuesday.
The global economy is slowing and a recovery in China's economy is not as fast as expected, Chaichan Chareonsuk, Chairman of Thai National Shippers, told a news conference.
Exports, a key driver of Thai economic growth, were not expected to rebound until the second half of the year, he said.
The group expects exports to decline 4.7% in the second quarter of 2023 from a year earlier before rebounding by 1.8% and 12% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
"If everything goes as forecast and is manageable, second half (exports) should show growth," he said, adding that last year's low base would also help.
A relatively strong baht is a challenge for Thai exports, the group said, adding the central bank had ensured the currency would not be too volatile.
The baht traded at 34.27 per dollar at 0618 GMT, having risen by 1% against the greenback so far this year.
"A baht exchange rate of 34 to 35 per dollar is acceptable and in the same direction as (the currencies of) trade partners and competitors," Chaichan said.
While the group maintains its forecast for export growth of 1% to 2% this year, Chaichan said a working target now should be for export growth of "about 1% or less" due to increased challenges.
The central bank forecast exports would drop 0.7% this year.
In the January-February period, customs-based exports dropped 4.6% from a year earlier.
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Ed Davies)