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The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is worried that efforts to revive the floundering Thai and global economies may be put at risk as some European countries bring back vaccination measures due to fears of coronavirus mutations.
The FTI's concerns emerged as Thailand reported a new cluster of Covid-19 infections in the Bang Khae district of western Bangkok, just as the country aims to relax covid measures in April.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, FTI chairman, said the FTI is keeping a watchful watch on the situation in Europe after Italy, one of the countries with the highest of infections, imposed a new lockdown.
"The global economy is likely to shrink if the pandemic leads in a new round of outbreaks and many countries are unable to control it," he said.
The FTI is hopeful that the ongoing vaccinations for a large number of people in several countries will provide positive results and help the government in better coping with the pandemic.
Vaccination efforts in each country must be increased, according to medical experts, to prevent the virus from mutating and affecting vaccine efficacy. To mutate, the virus needs humans to host it.
According to Surapong Paisitpatanapong, vice-chairman and spokesman of the FTI's automotive club, the 19 outbreaks will deal a further blow to the world economy and affect the export sector.
"Some European countries are struggling with new virus variants," he said.
"It seems difficult to control Covid-19, causing some countries to resort to lockdown measures."
Since January this year, Thai export products, notable cars, have shown signs of recovery and expansion, but if lockdown measures are reinstated, the automotive industry is unlikely to be spared.
"So, exports to European countries have improved," he said, "but we need to double-check the volume and keep a keen watch on the situation."
Carmakers will have to rely on domestic sales if car exports are affected, in the hopes of mitigating the impact.
The 42nd Bangkok International Motor Show will take place from March 22 to April 4 this year, according to the organizers. The FTI is hoping that the event will boost car production and help the country reach its 1.5 million unit target for this year.
According to Apisamai Srirangson, a spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), the CCSA will meet this week to consider relaxing restrictions imposed to contain a fresh Covid-19 outbreak in mid-December last year. She stated that the easing will begin on April 1 and will be in line with the state's vaccination plan.