Thailand: Trade balance falls back into red numbers despite strong export growth
November 23, 2018
In October, Thailand recorded a USD 280 million trade deficit, contrasting September’s USD 487 million trade surplus and swinging from the USD 204 million surplus recorded in October 2017. The 12-month moving sum of the trade balance narrowed from USD 4.7 billion in September to USD 4.2 billion in October, marking the lowest reading since June 2015.
Export growth swung from a 5.2% contraction in September to an 8.7% expansion in October over a year ago in USD terms, easily beating market expectations of 4.5% growth. The result reflected strong growth in exports of precious stones and jewelry; refine fuels; chemical products; machinery; and rice. Simultaneously, Thailand’s external sector enjoyed short-term benefits of the trade spat between the United States and China, as Thai exports replace Chinese goods that are met with hefty tariffs in the U.S. Meanwhile, imports accelerated at a quicker pace, increasing 11.2% in October over the same month a year earlier (September: +9.9% year-on-year).
Thailand Trade Balance Forecast
FocusEconomics panelists expect exports to expand 5.5% in 2019. The panel sees imports increasing 7.8% in 2019, which would bring the trade surplus to USD 22.0 billion. In 2020, exports and imports are expected to increase 6.2% and 6.9% respectively, with a trade surplus of USD 21.7 billion.
Author: Jan Lammersen, Economist