Thailand: Export strength continues
Exports rose for an eighth straight month in October, bringing the total for the first 10 months to a slightly higher level than expected and raising hopes that full-year growth could approach 10%, says the Commerce Ministry.
Exports totalled US$20.1 billion (657.97 billion baht) in October, up 13.1% year-on-year, while the 10-month figure reached $195.5 billion, up 9.7% year-on-year, said Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office.
“Exports were higher in every sector because of strong overseas demand as the economies of Thailand’s major trade partners recovered,” she said.
Ms Pimchanok said strong results so far indicate that full-year export growth could surpass the 8% forecast, even flirting with 10%.
She said exports in October increased in every major market, particularly in South Asia, Europe and China.
Exports to the EU rose 28%, while those to the US and Japan grew by 11% and 6%, respectively.
Shipments to China rose 17%, growing at a double-digit rate for a 12th straight month based on strong demand for rubber, plastic and chemical products.
Exports to India jumped 39% on strong demand for automobiles and auto parts, chemical products, oil and jewellery, while shipments to the neighbouring group of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam grew 11%.
Exports spiked for rubber products, tapioca products, frozen and processed foods, fruit, chemical products, cars and parts, electronics, and computers and components, Ms Pimchanok said.
She said the stronger baht is unlikely to have any negative impact on exports in the short term. Moreover, the US Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates towards the end of the year, which should curb the baht’s strength and prevent a substantially higher rise.
The expectation of a Fed rate hike led the Commerce Ministry to forecast that the baht will remain at 33-34 to the US dollar through year-end.
The ministry initially expected export growth to exceed 6% next year. It now wants to re-evaluate the situation in early 2018, as other external factors such as volatile global oil prices, Fed rate movements and possible geopolitical tension could influence exports.
Imports in October totalled $19.9 billion, rising 13.5% year-on-year, giving Thailand a trade surplus of $214 million.
Analysts said the double-digit growth in exports was not unexpected and was in line with performance elsewhere in Asia.
“Export growth of 9-10% was not a surprise this year, because it is the trend in many countries in Asia,” said Sompop Manarungsan, president of Panyapiwat Institute of Management.
He said the sharp rise in shipments was largely thanks to China, where the government injected a massive amount of money into the economy to encourage consumers to spend, resulting in a knock-on effect for Asia’s export economies.
With rising purchasing power in China, Mr Sompop said exports in the final two months this year would continue to grow at double-digit rates.