Thailand: Trade deficit widens in 2012
January 24, 2013
In December, the trade balance recorded a USD 2.4 billion deficit, which was smaller than the USD 3.6 billion shortfall registered in the same month last year. Despite the improvement, the trade balance registered a USD 18.1 billion deficit in the full year 2012, which nearly tripled the USD 6.2 billion deficit recorded in the previous year.
Exports increased 13.5% annually in December, which came in well below both the 26.9% expansion observed in November and market expectations of a 21.1% increase. As a result, exports rose 3.1% in 2012, which was down from the 15.1% increase observed in 2011.
Meanwhile, imports slowed markedly and expanded 4.7% in December, which represents only a fraction of the 24.5% increase observed in November. As a result, the imports increased 8.2% in 2012, which was below the 25.1% expansion in 2011.
Furthermore, in 2012, Thailand lost its three-decade old title as the world's top rice exporter to Vietnam. According to latest figures from the Thai Rice Exporters Association and the Commerce Ministry, rice exports recorded 6.9 million metric tons in 2012, well below the 10.7 million metric tons registered in 2011.
The Ministry of Commerce expects overall exports to grow between 8% and 9% this year.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist