General Motors (Thailand) says it is willing to supply other auto-makers with diesel engines it plans to manufacture in three new plants, with production expected to start next year.
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Expanding GM offers diesel-engine deals
Foreign direct investment has decelerated markedly in Thailand, but inflows should continue in 2009 and 2010 due to the secular trend to move production away from advanced economies.
Key risks to the outlook are (i) political uncertainty and (ii) the timing of the withdrawal of fiscal and monetary stimulus. Increased political tensions may have a long-lasting impact on investment, and withdrawal of stimulus (in Thailand and the advanced economies) must be precisely timed to avoid macroeconomic imbalances (including new asset bubbles) while also ensuring that the recovery is on a sufficiently solid footing.
The domestic content of automotive output in Thailand varies between 50 and 90 percent and averaged about 62%. For Isuzu (the largest pickup producer), domestic value-added is probably closer to 90 percent. Electronic and computer components are largely imported (from Japan), as are most transmissions (from the Philippines and India). Electronic components are of high value added and are used globally by the producers. Moreover, their development requires substantial R&D expenditures. Car manufacturers, as a result, prefer to concentrate the production of these electronic components in their home country – notably Japan – limiting technological spillovers. Only Toyota has a local transmission plant, with the remainder imported from India and the Philippines.
Shipments to emerging East Asia already surpassed the 2008 peak level but those to EU, Japan and ASEAN are slow.
The export collapse in 2009 has been the most severe in Thailand’s recent history. The magnitude of the decline has been unprecedented. Since 1957, there have been nine episodes where exports contracted for at least six consecutive months. Losses to date are more than double those in the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and the 2001 “dot.com” bubble turmoil. Thailand’s export performance tracked developments in world merchandise trade, which dropped around four and eight percent in the 1997 and 2001 meltdowns, respectively, but 22 % so far during the current global financial crisis.