Thailand: Cross-border trade poised to hit B1.80tn

Despite slower economic growth in neighbouring countries and zero-Covid measures in China, Thailand’s cross-border trade is still expected to grow by at least 5% this year to 1.80 trillion baht, driven by greater demand for gasoline, edible oil, tyres and auto parts.

Pitak Udomwichaiwat, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, said the department remains bullish on border trade prospects after a recent joint meeting with representatives of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries and commercial ambassadors in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China to evaluate the border trade situation in the second half.

However, the meeting noted slower economic growth in neighbouring countries such as Laos and Myanmar, while the impact of stringent measures at China’s key border checkpoints as part of its zero-Covid policy might pose key threats to cross-border trade.

The department recently reported overall cross-border trade (including transit trade) totalled 150 billion baht in July, up 1.85% from the same month last year.

Of the total, exports declined by 2.58% to 87.7 billion baht, while imports rose by 8.79% to 62.4 billion compared with the same period last year.

Thailand enjoyed a trade surplus of 25.2 billion baht in July.

In the first seven months of this year, Thailand’s border and cross-border trade tallied 1 trillion baht, up by 2.98% compared with the same period last year.

Exports contributed 595 billion baht, up by 0.61% from the first seven months of last year, with imports worth 405 billion baht, up by 6.65%.

Thailand posted a trade surplus of 190 billion baht in the first seven months.

Mr Pitak said exports to neighbouring countries increased in July, with those bound for Malaysia up 23.3%, Cambodia up 16.8%, Myanmar up 51.3% and Laos up 26.9%.

Shipments of key products maintained their growth, such as diesel oil, unwrought gold and sugar to Laos; edible palm oil, diesel oil and refined oil to Myanmar; tyres, automobiles and auto components, and rubber to Malaysia; and minerals, fuel, automobiles and auto components to Cambodia.

The baht’s weakness benefits border trade among neighbouring countries as they can use the Thai currency to purchase goods and enjoy price competitiveness.

He said for the remaining months of this year the department pledges to negotiate with neighbouring countries to open more border checkpoints.

As of Aug 24, with the easing of Covid-19 outbreaks, Thailand had opened 60 of its 97 total border checkpoints.

The department also plans to continue the loan matching scheme initiated through partnerships with financial institutions such as the Export-Import Bank of Thailand and the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation to grant soft loans, increasing the liquidity of Thai traders and exporters.

As of Aug 19, 1,148 entrepreneurs had applied for loans under the scheme, worth 5.83 billion baht, with 1,127 entrepreneurs winning loan approval worth a combined 5.77 billion baht.