BANGKOK (Xinhua) — The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said in a report on Thursday that automobile production fell to the lowest level in 30 years in April, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FTI report said only 24,711 automobiles were produced in April, down 83.55 percent year-on-year.
The number of vehicles produced for export had dropped 81.76 percent, while the number produced for domestic consumption was down 85.35 percent.
Also, the domestic sale of cars in Thailand was at 30,109, down 65.02 percent year-on-year due to the drop in people’s purchasing power, while the export of automobiles was at 20,326, down 69.71 percent year-on-year owing to the economic slowdown.
The FTI has cut its production target for the automotive industry from 2 million to just 1 million.
The report also said that very few people had been visiting car showrooms even though the COVID-19 situation has improved.
It said that should there be a second wave of infections, the automobile industry will nosedive further.
Earlier, FTI President Suphant Mongkolsuthree told the media that the industrial confidence index in April stood at 75.9 from the previous month of 88.
“The index dropped to the lowest since April 2009 due to uncertainty following the COVID-19 outbreak, the government’s lockdown measures and drought,” he said.
“Some businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, have had to slow down their production and investment, as well as lay off employees due to liquidity shortages.”
According to the FTI’s survey, 69.5 percent of businesses are concerned about the global economic situation, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic had led to a massive drop in orders from overseas.
Schools Reopen July 1
Thailand’s Ministry of Education said on Thursday that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Public Health to pave way for the re-opening of schools nationwide on July 1 and to ensure the safety of students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Actually students are at a greater risk of infection in schools than shoppers in malls, because they spend five to six hours together during the school day,” said Panpimon Wipulakorn, director-general for the Department of Health.
Panpimon also said it will be challenging for teachers to ensure that students observe the health advisories, such as wearing face masks all the time at school, regularly washing their hands and keeping physical distancing.
The director-general said that 3.8 percent of Thailand’s COVID-19 infections are among those aged between 10 and 19, most of whom contracted the virus from other family members.
“However the good thing about infected children is that their condition rarely becomes severe, however they are still able to infect their peers in school,” Panpimon warned.
The Ministry of Education had already distributed handbooks to all academic institutions about social-distancing and putting personal hygiene as priority.
Panpimon asked parents not to panic and to teach their children on how to protect themselves against the virus.
She advised parents to learn how to communicate online with the other parents and teachers.