Thailand Supply Chain Impact, By The Numbers

  • By Josh Green
  • · October 28, 2011
  • ·

It’s scary to watch what’s happening in Thailand.  Though it’s hard to look beyond the human tragedy, we’ve been getting questions about the impact on supply chains — and so we took a look at the numbers.

Bob Ferrari has a good analysis of the effect on the computer industry.  Sure enough, Thailand ships the lion’s share of hard drives.  Take a look at the Trendspotting report on HTS code 8471704065 (“Hard magnetic disk drive units”).  Note:

  • Through August, Thailand accounted for over 36% of U.S. hard drive imports.
  • And, in fact, they’ve been gaining share.  Compared to a year ago, they’ve gained 2.1 points in market share.*

It’s not just that Thailand’s hard drive business is important to the computer industry.  This business is a crucial part of Thailand’s economy.  By dollar value, hard drives are Thailand’s biggest export category to the United States — about $1.5 billion to-date.

But it’s not just the high tech world that will be affected.  We took a look at vessel shipments coming out of Thailand into the U.S.  Here are a few of the commodity terms that appear most frequently:

  • Rice: 52,891 shipments (~26% of all rice shipments coming into the U.S.)
  • Shrimp: 46,097 shipments (~27% of all shrimp shipments coming into the U.S.)
  • Coconut: 31,431 shipments (~32% of all coconut shipments coming into the U.S.)
  • Furniture: 24,580 shipments (~10% of all furniture shipments coming into the U.S.)
  • Pineapple: 23,209 shipments (~25% of all pineapple shipments coming into the U.S.)

The impact of the floods in Thailand will be felt by companies who sell or use these products  — because they will have to scramble for supply and likely pay higher prices — and also by consumers.

How big of an impact will we see?  Japan’s recent experience may provide some guide.  According to our analysis of Q2 data, in the wake of the tsunami Japan’s exports to the U.S. fell 7% on a year-over-year basis.  Sadly, poorer countries tend to be less resilient to natural disasters — because they have less resources to address the challenges that arise.

Thailand’s GDP is about 4% of Japan’s GDP.

* Methodology on this…  We look at dollar value of U.S. imports for the most recent three months and compare it to the same period a year prior.  Note that, for those who aren’t Panjiva subscribers, you may not see in the public version of Trendspotting that Thailand is the country that’s gained 2.1 points in market share.

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