Vichai Assarasakorn, Vice-Chairman of the chamber, said rubber trees die after 20 days in floodwater and oil palm trees after a month.
If the flooding, which began in the New Year and spread over 12 of the 14 southern provinces, drains off in a few weeks, economic damage would be capped at B15bn, about 0.1 per cent of the GDP, he said.
If the flooding continues over the next few months, economic damage would rise to B85-120bn, equivalent to 0.5-0.7% of the gross domestic product as it would hit rubber and palm plantations.
The losses in the livestock sector were substantial, but only limited in the tourism sector as travellers could move from the Gulf area to southern destinations facing the Andaman Sea, Mr Vichai said.
The impact was greatest on hotels in the Gulf of Thailand area. He said 10-20% of room reservations at Gulf hotels were cancelled, but special events and promotions could draw tourists back there during the coming Songkran festival.
Meanwhile, the cabinet yesterday approved a personal income tax break of up to B100,000 for post-flood repair expenses – up to B100,000 for properties and B30,000 for vehicles.
The exemption, to be issued as a finance ministerial regulation, is applied to expenses incurred between Dec 1, 2016 and May 31, 2017 only.
Kobsak Phutrakul, Vice Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, said the Finance Ministry had estimated the cost of the flooding in the South at around B15bn.
Most of the flood-ravaged areas were agricultural land, he said, and the deluge did not affect the country’s large industrial estates like the great floods of 2011.
Flash floods and storms have hit 12 southern provinces, affecting 1.6 million people and causing damage to 20 government installations, 1,172 roads and 191 bridges. The death toll as of Sunday (Jan 15) was 41.