Thailand: Exports rise to record high
March 31, 2011
In February, exports expanded 29.1% over the same month the year before to reach USD 18.4 billion, which represented a record high. The reading was above both the previous 21.4% increase observed in January and market expectations of 16.1%. The monthly expansion was mainly boosted by higher shipments of industrial products and, in particular, agricultural products, which benefited from rising world prices for agricultural products. Imports, in contrast, decelerated from the strong 31.2% expansion observed in January to an 18.6% increase in February. As a result, the trade balance incurred a surplus of USD 2.0 billion, which contrasted the deficit of USD 588 million witnessed in January. As a result of the strong February reading, the moving 3-month export sum jumped to USD 52.1 billion from USD 51.3 billion in January. Exports remain above the pre-crisis peak of USD 49.8 billion observed in the three months to August 2008 and bounced back almost 60% from the USD 33.2 billion trough witnessed in the three months leading up to May 2009. In a recent statement, Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai argued that export growth is likely to weaken somewhat in the months to come, as the crisis in Japan is expected to negatively impact shipments. Japan ranks fourth among Thailand's export destinations. The Commerce Ministry anticipates exports to rise 10.0% this year, after having surged 28.5% in 2010.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist