Thailand Trade Balance December 2020


Thailand: Merchandise exports grow for first time in nine months in December

January 22, 2021

Merchandise exports inched up 4.7% on an annual basis in December, sharply contrasting November’s 3.6% drop. December’s increase marked the first expansion in nine months and the fastest expansion since February 2019. Meanwhile, merchandise imports increased 3.6% in annual terms in December (November: -1.0% yoy), marking the best result since March 2020.

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 1.0 billion surplus in December (November 2020: USD 0.1 billion surplus; December 2019: USD 0.7 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 24.5 billion surplus in December, compared to the USD 24.2 billion surplus in November.

The projected easing of the coronavirus pandemic this year should lead to a rebound in global economic growth. For Thailand, activity is set to recover robustly, with exports likely to be boosted by improving external demand, and returning household spending driving an uptick in imports. However, the future trajectory of the pandemic, and especially its impact on all-important tourism levels, is a key factor determining the outlook.

Regarding the outlook for the external sector, Sian Fenner, lead Asia economist at Oxford Economics, commented:

“We expect trade to be bumpy in the short term given uneven global demand, but we still look for exports to trend higher [this] year as global restrictions are eased. While positive news on vaccines provides some upside risk, uncertainties remain about vaccine distribution, and travel restrictions will likely stay for a while. This means service exports will remain a drag on the forecast recovery.”

FocusEconomics panelists project exports to grow 5.5% in 2021 and imports 7.9%, which would bring the trade surplus to USD 36.5 billion. In 2022, exports and imports are expected to increase 6.9% and 7.9% respectively, with the trade surplus at USD 37.1 billion.

Author:, Economist

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Thailand Trade Balance Chart

Thailand Trade12 December 20 20

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports in %.
Source: Bank of Thailand (BoT) and FocusEconomics calculations.

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