The Industry Ministry is being asked to allow the creation of a new regulatory unit to help it monitor product standards, aiming to control the influx of cheap Chinese imports, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
The FTI did not indicate whether the new agency would be managed by the government or business sector, saying only the mission is to help the ministry’s Thai Industrial Standard Institute (TISI) certify the quality and safety of goods.
TISI is too slow in its operations, according to the federation, which means it is not effective in helping the government prevent the import of substandard goods.
“The government needs a helping hand because the import of cheap Chinese goods continues to increase, leading to dumping in the Thai market,” said Thawee Piyapatana, vice-chairman of the FTI.
If the TISI cannot process its work quickly because of an insufficient number of officials or high workload, it needs assistance from a new agency to screen out low-quality products, he said.
The FTI said the influx of cheap Chinese goods is affecting local manufacturers across 20 sectors, including steel, aluminium, plastics, ceramics, petrochemicals and medicine.
The import volume will continue to rise if the government does not improve its product certification process, said Mr Thawee.
“The FTI is worried about this issue and already called on the government to solve it. Local businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, are bearing the brunt,” he said.
Thai manufacturers cannot compete with Chinese rivals on product prices, while Chinese firms do not face tariffs under the Thailand-China free trade agreement, said Mr Thawee.
If Chinese imports continue to increase, it could be a factor leading to a trade deficit, he said.
The Commerce Ministry reported earlier the customs-cleared value of exports increased by 2.6% year-on-year in August, the first gain in 11 months, to US$24.3 billion.
Imports contracted by 12.8% to $23.9 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $360 million.
Efforts to stem cheap Chinese imports is among the urgent tasks the FTI requested of Industry Minister Pimphattra Wichaikul.
During the first six months of this year, the FTI noted a rapid increase in Chinese imported goods. Thailand has a trade deficit with China of several million baht, said Kriengkrai Thiennukul, chairman of the FTI.