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Thai exports on track

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 > 09:21:20

Khmer Times

The prospect of Thailand’s exports growing by five percent this year looks good after outbound shipments for March fared better than expected, jumping 9.2 percent year-on-year.

Nopporn Thepsithar, acting president of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said yesterday for the first time that Thai exports have a chance to grow by five percent as targeted by the government, driven by higher prices of oil-related product prices and farm products as well as higher imports from China.

“The third quarter will be the most crucial period to dictate Thailand’s export performance this year, as the impact of negative risks such as US President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance, global political tensions and the world’s financial and economic condition will become clearer,” he said.

“If those factors turn out to have a marginal impact, the five percent growth for Thai exporters is highly likely.”

Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said based on the anticipated recovery of the global economy and key trading partners such as China, Singapore and Japan, Thai export growth may exceed five percent this year.

However, he warned the world’s economy remains highly volatile, notably from general elections in the European Union, the departure of Britain from the EU, and the uncertain international political situation and terrorism.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said Thailand’s exports will see more sustainable growth if the government successfully improves the ease of doing business and reduces obstacles for the country’s imports and exports.

The Commerce Ministry on Monday reported customs-cleared exports rose 9.2 percent year-on-year in March to $19.3 billion after February’s 2.8 percent drop.

“The recovery of world trade and the global economy, as well as improvements in oil-related products, especially rubber, helped boost Thai exports in March,” said Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the ministry’s trade policy and strategy office.

“Export market diversification strategy is on course as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and South Asian markets registered healthy rates, while exports to China and India in March 2017 were record-high in terms of value.”

The shipments to China surged 47.6 percent in March to $2.73 billion, while those to India rose 14.9 percent to $570 million.

All key markets, such as the US, Europe, Japan, and South Asia also saw exports increase by 7.1 percent, 10.2 percent, 14.9 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively. Only shipments to five Asean countries – Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei and the Middle East fell.

According to Ms. Pimchanok, exports of agricultural and agribusiness products rose 12 percent on-year in March, fetching $3.25 billion, boosted by higher shipments, particularly of rubber, which rose 95.4 percent, processed frozen poultry, which went up 15 percent, and frozen fresh vegetables and fruits, up three percent.

Exports of industrial products also increased by 8.7 percent to $16.7 billion, led by processed rubber, which rose 64.7 percent, computer and components, up 18.4 percent, and fuel oil, up 53.9 percent.

In March, imports rose 19.3 percent from March 2016 to $19.3 billion, yielding a trade surplus of $1.62 billion.

For the first three months of 2017, Thailand’s exports rose 4.9 percent to $56.5 billion, the highest rate in the past four years. Imports rose accordingly by 14.8 percent to $52.4 billion, yielding a trade surplus of $ 4.1 billion for the first quarter.

The Commerce Ministry aims for export growth of five percent this year after a rise of 0.5 percent in 2016.

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