Thai floods threaten industry, but no 2011 replay
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre, ReutersBANGKOK--Floodwater has breached an industrial estate to the east of the Thai capital, stirring fears that foreign and Thai companies face a repeat of the devastation suffered in 2011, but the estate's operator said water levels were manageable.
October 9, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
Thailand is the world's largest producer of hard-disk drives and a big supplier of electronic components and car parts.
Flooding in 2011 killed more than 800 people and caused major disruption to industry, cutting economic growth to just 0.1 percent. Global firms, including Apple Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp., also faced supply disruptions.
Amata Corporation, Thailand's biggest industrial estate developer, said its industrial park in Chonburi province, 114 km (71 miles) east of Bangkok, was operating normally, despite minor flooding.
Chief Executive Wikrom Krommadit said on Tuesday that water up to a height of 15 cm (6 inches) had entered the park and accumulated in three areas, but had not hit operations.
“Water levels in the park are stable and all our factories are working as normal,” Wikrom told Reuters. “If the situation gets worse, we plan to divide the park in two sections to build a temporary flood way to allow water to flow through.”
He said it was the first time floods had hit the Amata Nakorn estate, spread over 3,020 hectares (7,459 acres) and home to several companies producing parts for Japanese automakers. Nearly half the factories there hail from Japan.
Authorities say the floodwater is moving in a different direction from that in 2011, when water flowed towards Bangkok, the capital, from Thailand's north.
“It is heading towards eastern provinces, so there's a chance that industrial parks that were not hit last time could face flooding this time around,” said Chartchai Promlert, chief of Thailand's Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
Floods this year have affected 28 out of 77 Thai provinces and 36 people have been killed, the department says, with more than 3 million people affected since July.
Toyota is weighing up risk-management strategies for one of its three assembly plants in Thailand, the Ban Pho facility, in Chachoengsao province to the east of Bangkok, a spokesman for the Japanese automaker told Reuters.
“Ban Pho is in an at-risk area at the moment, but we believe the plant will be spared from flooding,” he said.