BANGKOK, Jan 24 – Thailand’s trade deficit reached US$18.1 billion (Bt543 billion) last year when exports and imports increased by 3.12 per cent and 8.22 per cent respectively from 2011, according to the Commerce Ministry.
The ministry reported that December’s exports at $18.1 billion represent an increase by 13.45 per cent from December 2011 while December’s imports totalled $20.5 billion, or 4.67 per cent higher than December 2011.
Thailand’s trade deficit in December alone was $2.37 billion, the ministry said.
The latest figure contrasted with an earlier forecast by Reuters that Thai export and import growth in December should reach 21.1 per cent and 5.95 per cent respectively while the trade deficit in the final month of 2012 was predicted at $1.33 billion.
Srirat Rastapana, director general of the International Trade Promotion Department, blamed the ongoing European economic crisis and sluggish economies in Japan, China and US for Thailand’s unfavourable export growth in December.
The appreciating Thai currency is another factor that will affect Thailand’s exports this year, especially among small- and medium-sized businesses, according to the Commerce Ministry.
The ministry is optimistic, however, that the stronger baht will not have a negative impact on Thailand’s exports this month.
The Commerce Ministry’s targetted export growth at 8-9 per cent this year was based on an assumed exchange rate of Bt30 against the US dollar. It will review the target in May.
The Thai currency appreciated to Bt29.77-29.80 against the US dollar on Wednesday – the strongest in the last 17 months.