Thailand: Merchandise exports crash to an over decade-low in May
Thai merchandise exports slumped 22.5% year-on-year in May, contrasting April’s 2.1% increase and marking the sharpest fall since July 2009. The downturn chiefly reflected plummeting exports of industrial products, and of mineral and fuel goods. Exports of agricultural products fell as well, although at a softer pace.
Meanwhile, merchandise imports fell 34.4% over a year ago in May, down from the 17.1% downturn recorded in April and marking the sharpest drop since May 2009. As imports plunged at a faster rate than exports, the trade balance surplus rose to USD 2.7 billion from USD 2.5 billion in April. On a 12-month rolling basis, the trade surplus rose to USD 17.5 billion from USD 15.1 billion in the previous month.
The Covid-19 pandemic will take a heavy toll on exports this year and weigh on the overall economy. Moreover, the balance of risks is notably titled to the downside owing amid a slowing Chinese economy, the trade dispute between the U.S. and China and the possibility of a second wave of infection.
FocusEconomics panelists project exports to contract 8.7% in 2020. The panel sees imports falling 13.4% in 2020, which would bring the trade surplus to USD 34.4 billion. In 2021, exports and imports are expected to increase 5.7% and 7.5% respectively, with the trade surplus narrowing to USD 33.1 billion.