Thailand: Exports forecast to outpace 7% target

Continued bullish exports in August helped cumulative exports for the year rise more than 8%, making it likely shipments will exceed the government’s 7% growth target, says Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn.

Despite the stronger baht, exports grew at a double-digit pace for the fourth straight month in August, up 13.2% to US$21.2 billion (702.5 billion baht), the highest value in four-and-a-half years, as demand for Thai products rose substantially in major markets, she said.

Exports for the first eight months grew 8.9% from the same period last year to $153.6 billion. That is two-thirds of the full-year export target of $230.5 billion.

“That figure makes us feel confident that the stronger baht is not a major problem for exporters and that full-year exports should rise by at least 7%,” said Ms Apiradi.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak earlier said stronger exports reflect the global economic recovery, which should lend support for rising shipments for the rest of 2017.

Thai exports rose at a double-digit rate for four consecutive months, up 10.48% in July, 11.7% in June and 12.7% in May, according to the Commerce Ministry’s data.

Export growth has come despite the stronger Thai baht, which has risen more than 8% this year.

Ms Apiradi said that although the baht is stronger, its growth is in line with other Asian countries, making all players compete on a relatively equal playing field, with Thailand’s efforts to promote its products in several markets showing some success.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said the Commerce Ministry has estimated the Thai currency can remain at a relatively high level of 33 baht per dollar.

The robust baht will unlikely have an immediate impact on Thai exports this year as many orders were made months in advance, she said.

Ms Pimchanok said the if the baht continues to rise, Thai exports will take a hit next year. She said Thai exports performed well in the EU, US, China and Asean, particularly Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The only market where Thai exports contracted was the Middle East, where purchasing power has dropped in line with global oil prices. But oil prices are forecast to rise further, which should help push purchasing power in the Middle East to rise in the same direction, said Ms Pimchanok.

For imports, Thailand took in $19.1 billion in August, up 14.9% year-on-year, leaving the country with a $2.09 billion baht trade surplus that month. For the first eight month, imports rose 15.4% to 144.8 billion baht, making the trade surplus for that period $8.9 billion, said Ms Pimchanok.

Below: Containers are stacked at the Laem Chabang port, proof if any is needed that Thai exports for 2017 are out-running even the most optimistic predictions. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1328963/exports-forecast-to-outpace-7-target