Thailand: Exports register record high in March
April 29, 2011
In March, exports accelerated at the fastest pace in ten months, expanding 31.0% over the same month last year (February: +29.1% year-on-year), which was in line with market expectations of a 31.1% rise. As a result of the buoyant growth in March, exports reached USD 21.1 billion, which represented a record high. The monthly expansion was mainly driven by higher international sales of agricultural products, which benefited from an expanding global economy and increasing prices for agricultural products. Meanwhile, imports rose 27.2% year-on-year in March, faster than the 18.6% increase observed in February. As a result, the trade balance surplus narrowed slightly from USD 2.0 billion in February to USD 1.9 billion in March. Owing to the strong March reading, the moving 3-month export sum jumped to USD 56.0 billion from USD 52.1 billion observed in February. Exports remain well above the pre-crisis peak of USD 49.8 billion witnessed in the three months to August 2008 and bounced back almost 70% from the USD 33.2 billion trough observed in the three months through to May 2009. The Commerce Minister, Porntiva Nakasai, argued that export growth is likely to weaken somewhat in the months ahead, as the crisis in Japan is expected to negatively impact overseas 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. Moreover, the Central Bank revised its export growth estimates and expects shipments to expand 20.4% this year before slowing to 12.4% in 2012.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist