Thailand: Fall in exports moderates in December
Thai exports contracted again in December, falling 1.3% year-on-year (November: -7.4% year-on-year). The fall in outbound shipments was driven by a strong drop in cars, parts and accessories; precious stones and jewelry; chemical products; polymers of ethylene and propylene; and refine fuels. Imports, on the other hand, grew 2.5% year-on-year (November: -13.8% year-on-year).
As a consequence, the trade surplus narrowed from USD 1.3 billion in December 2018 to USD 0.6 billion in December 2019 (November: USD 0.5 billion). The 12-month moving sum also narrowed, from USD 10.3 billion in November to USD 9.6 billion in December.
This year, export growth should rebound but this is partly due to a low base effect. The performance of the external sector will largely depend on exogenous developments, such as continued progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute in the wake of the signing of a ‘phase one’ deal in mid-January; while a stronger-than-expected slowdown in China could weigh on exports.