Amid listlessness in Thai exports that inched downward 0.36 percent during 10M14, exporters are looking for viable markets as a long-term safe haven. The Muslim world exhibits the potential to become a star export opportunity in the future, being influential in the contemporary world and having a population of over two billion. Our shipments to 57 Muslim countries have increased appreciably. Thai outbound trade to those destinations rose from 14 percent of our total exports in 2006 to 18 percent during 10M14 – a promising number showing that these nations could be a new hope. Potential sectors include those of the construction materials, automobiles and tourism as well as Halal food.
Thailand is well-equipped to penetrate the Halal food market. We are now the 11th largest exporter of Halal food globally. KResearch estimates that Thai Halal food shipments will be worth perhaps USD6.1 billion, up 5.1 percent YoY in 2015. Thai operators planning to tap into this market must be cognizant of the special needs of these cultures, ensuring that their manufacturing processes and supply chains comply strictly with religious principles. Sales channels should be extensive enough to meet consumer needs.
However, ongoing tensions in the Middle East may be a challenge that compels Thai producers to prepare for untoward contingencies; they may need to consider new markets and material sources. Also, when dealing with trade partners facing political uncertainties, businesses should implement appropriate hedging strategies.
Over the short-term, we expect that growth will be moderate for Thai exports to Muslim nations in 2015, wherein we predict 1.8 percent expansion, versus this year's 4.3-percent drop, owing to falling oil prices that are unfavorable to the current investment and consumption climate in oil producing and exporting countries. Moreover, economic reforms carried out in Malaysia and Indonesia have adversely affected demand for Thai products.