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Port Authority of Thailand sees year ahead as toughest in a decade

Port Authority of Thailand sees year ahead as toughest in a decade

Bangkok: The state-run Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) expects its worst business performance in a decade next year as slowing global trade leads to reduced activity at Thai ports, local media reported.

The agency manages five ports in Bangkok and the provinces with a combined capacity of around 8m teu. After the completion of the third-phase expansion of Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri in 2011, port capacity will reach 11 million TEU.

Thanks to robust exports over the past several years, the PAT has seen its revenue grow by 10-12% annually, said director-general Sunida Skulrattana.

But next year, the trend might reverse because prospects for global trade seem bleak. Financial turmoil in the US has spread to Europe, and both are major export markets for Thai goods.

"We are now concerned that slowing economies of our main trading partners as well as the exchange rate could affect business activities at our ports," she said. "A worst-case scenario is zero growth in 2009. That would be the worst business performance in a decade."

For its fiscal year ending on Sept 30, the PAT recorded total revenue of 9.85 billion baht, compared with nine billion a year earlier. Its net profit was 3.19 billion baht, up 7% from 2007.

About 6.5 million TEU of containers were serviced at the Bangkok port in Klong Toey and at Laem Chabang - the country's two major ports. Capacity at the Klong Toey port has reached the maximum of 1.33 million TEU.

Shipments at Laem Chabang increased 13% in 2008 to 5.22 million TEU with major items consisting of food, electronic components, and automobiles and parts.

"Thailand increased its exports to China, India and other countries in the Bay of Bengal economic partnership in garments, rubber products, sandals, and cement," said Mrs Sunida.

"Despite the threat of a global economic recession, we are still hopeful that Thailand's major export products such as frozen food and automobiles will continue to expand."

Thailand's exports of completely built vehicles are projected to reach 800,000 units this year, up 15% from 2007.

As of 2008, the PAT had a workforce of 3,369 people and assets valued at 26.62 billion baht. Total liabilities were 3.1 billion baht, down from 3.66 billion a year earlier, resulting in an 11.99% return on assets (ROA).

Its expenses rose 13% over the year to 4.87 billion baht with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 4.98 billion baht. [3/11/08]