Thailand: August exports expected to expand at a slower rate

Exports should continue to maintain their growth momentum in August, albeit at a slower pace than the previous month, when they surged by 20.2% year-on-year from July of last year.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said in a speech at a seminar yesterday the country’s export sector was expected to keep growing in August, but at a reduced rate from July because of the rise in Covid-19 infections, which led to tougher lockdown and curfew measures that affected manufacturing and logistics sectors.

According to Commerce Ministry statistics, customs-cleared exports reached US$22.7 billion in July, with imports increasing by 45.9% year-on-year to $22.5 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $183 million.

It was the fifth consecutive month of increases, after gains of 43.8% in June, 41.6% in May, 13.1% in April, and 8.47% in March, following a 2.59% contraction in February.

For the first seven months of 2021, Thai exports expanded by 16.2% to $155 billion, while imports rose by 28.7% to $152 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $2.62 billion.

Real sector exports (excluding gold, oil-related products and weaponry) also continued to soar by 25.4% from July last year.

The ministry is due to release August trade data today.

According to Mr Jurin, supporting factors for export growth included the robust global economic recovery, depreciation of the baht, rising oil prices and especially export promotions created by the ministry and private sector.

He urged vigilant monitoring of intensification of non-tariff barriers, such as standards for labour, human rights, sanitation and the environment, including carbon tariffs, which could affect export growth.

The ministry is also keeping an eye on the new Indo-Pacific security pact recently agreed by Australia, the US and the UK, which Mr Jurin described as “politics tied to trade”.

The deal includes a joint effort to help the Australian military acquire nuclear-powered submarines, in an apparent attempt to counter China.

He said the ministry needs to speed up talks on free trade pacts and strategic partnership deals, as well as study more thoroughly the impact of new international trade pacts including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.