Ceramic products are another commodities that rely heavily on exports. Thailand's largest ceramic export market during 9M08 included Japan, with a total export value of USD 326.6 million, accounting for 52.6 percent out of all Thai ceramic exports during the period. Thai ceramic exports to Japan have largely been such items as ceramic tubes or pipes, ceramic parts for various installation applications, as well as ceramic products used in laboratories and farming. The second largest export market for Thai ceramic products was the USA, with an export value of USD 79.3 million, accounting for 12.8 percent of the exports. Sanitaryware was the main export category sent there.
The financial crisis that began in September 2008 has resulted in a credit crunch in the US. This has dominoed to other economies and dampened consumer spending worldwide. KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) expects that Thai ceramic exports in 2008 will decelerate further to USD834 million, growing by only 17.3 percent, against the growth of 42.9 percent in 2007. KResearch expects that such exports will worsen, with the value reaching just USD 853 million for all of 2008, growing only 2.3 percent due largely to sluggish foreign orders expected toward the end of 2008 and be further evident into 2009.
The sharpest decline in exports will be seen in ceramic construction items, such as sanitaryware, floor and wall tiles, mosaics, souvenirs and decorative items. Ceramic exports tending toward deceleration include insulators. In light of the global financial meltdown, Thai entrepreneurs are advised to maintain their product quality, reduce production costs, and do R&D. They should also step up efforts to promote domestic sales to help offset the expected shortfall in exports.