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Thai food exports fall short due to migrant labor shortage

Businesses lack half-million workers, many from Myanmar, pushed out amid COVID

Workers cut chicken in a food factory in Thailand.   © Reuters

BANGKOK -- Although global demand is recovering substantially, Thailand's labor-intensive food processing industry, which relies heavily on migrant workers, is struggling to regain momentum and is unlikely to boost exports due to labor shortages caused by a persistent COVID pandemic.

After the pandemic's severe third wave began early this year, many migrant workers, mostly from Myanmar, had their work permits expired and were forced to go back to their home countries. The Thai government also sealed the border to prevent infections. A large number of workers found it impossible to enter Thailand, creating a labor shortage for Thai businesses.

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