Thailand’s Vibrant Post-Pandemic Logistics Outlook (Bangkok Post)

While Thailand’s robust logistics facilities and business ecosystem contribute to the reliability and competitiveness of its supply chains across industries and markets, the country has a strong commitment and a concrete plan to further improve this competitiveness and leverage its advantageous location in ASEAN.

With the largest online population and the second largest economy in the ASEAN region, Thailand has seen its consumers increasingly shift to e-commerce as part of the adjustment process to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating a boon to delivery services. Meanwhile the country’s air, maritime and road transportation services are all poised to rebound strongly in line with the pickup in world demand, as Thailand is one of the region’s largest export bases for industries from automotive to agribusiness and biochemicals.

Represented by both local and global companies, Thailand’s well-established logistics sector is a major facilitating factor for trade and investment while also generating massive jobs for the country’s workforce. The database of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO), under Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, showed that around 20,200 companies were registered in the Thai logistics sector as of August 2020. More than half of these (10,500) were active in road and rail transportation, with 7,900 in warehouses and related activities and approximately 800 each in maritime shipping and delivery services. Approximately 200 companies were operating air transportation services.

The TPSO estimated that Thailand’s logistics industry was the fourth largest industry in the country’s service sector, generating economic outputs during the first half of 2021 of approximately US$ 12.2 billion, accounting for 5% of gross domestic product. Although the TPSO reported that Thailand’s logistic industry declined by 22% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period of 2020, such a decrease was observed in almost all of the country’s logistics sectors during the pandemic, except for last-mile delivery and postal services, which posted 35% growth in 2019 from 2018 to reach a value of US$ 860 million.

Thriving Delivery and Goods Transportation

Reflecting the surge in e-commerce during the pandemic, for both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) transactions, a survey by the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA)1 estimated that Thailand’s revenue from e-commerce rose to approximately $50 billion in 2020, up from $35 billion in 2017. The survey also showed that Thailand had the largest B2C e-commerce sector in the ten- membered ASEAN region in 2019 with solid growth prospects.

A study by JP Morgan2 showed that one-third of all e-commerce activities in Thailand involve cross- border transactions, with half of the country’s online shoppers having already made a purchase from abroad. The top three overseas destinations for Thai products are China, Japan, and the United States. Thailand’s growing e-commerce market is driven by mobile applications and e-payment systems, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 12% to $25 billion by 2023 reflecting the growing popularity of online shopping through mobile phones.

Looking at ASEAN overall, an e-Conomy SEA 2020 report, jointly commissioned by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, predicted e-commerce in the bloc to hit $62 billion in value in 2020. Global e-commerce firm, Lazada, expects online shopping in ASEAN to reach US$172 billion by 2025, an increase by nearly three times from 2020.

The robust demand for e-commerce in Thailand and across ASEAN has attracted global e-commerce portals to invest in warehouse and logistics facilities in the country, helping shorten transportation times and provide more sophisticated supply chain and logistics management in the medium-term.

Promising Hub for Maritime, Air and Road Logistics

After a decline during the pandemic, Thailand’s logistics industry is poised to recover gradually along with world demand for Thai exports and tourism. Over the long-term, the country’s ongoing investment in upgrading the country’s deep seaports and dry ports as well as international airports across the country will underpin the robustness of the traffic and growth of the logistics industry and further cement Thailand as a logistics hub of Asia and the Pacific.

The database3 of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that Thailand reported a fleet growth rate of 15.5% to 6.7 million dead weight tons of national flag fleet in 2020, compared with 5.4 million tons in 2015. A 2019 UNCTAD analysis of the volume of goods transported by shipping in the next 20 years, meanwhile, has forecast a significant expansion of the shipping volume to as much as 536 million tons in 2039.

As about 90% of all goods transported from one country to another are sent by sea, due to the low cost and greater capacity of this mode compared to air freight, the Thai government has placed a priority on expanding the capacity of seaports across the country. Flagship projects include the expansion of Laem Chabang Deep Seaport to reach a capacity of at least 18 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year upon completion targeted in 2023, compared to 11 million TEUs at present, and the expansion of Map Ta Phut Industrial Seaport to increase the capacity of natural gas and fluid material shipments for the petrochemical industry upon completion in 2025. Aside from these two seaports, which are located in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the Thai government is also conducting a feasibility study for the Southern Land Bridge which will feature upgraded commercial seaports in Ranong and Chumphon provinces, connecting the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, which will connect to other seaports along coastal areas in Bangkok and the EEC.

This article originally appeared on Bangkok Post. You can view the original article here:

Bangkok Post

21 October 2021