Commerce Ministry: January exports drop 2%

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BANGKOK, Feb 23 – Thailand’s Commerce Ministry announced today that exports last month dropped 1.98 per cent, will certainly grow 5 per cent this year after signs of improved American, Japanese, and European Union economies.

Srirat Rattapana, the ministry’s permanent-secretary, said exports in January were valued at US$17.9 billion, a drop of 1.98 per cent year-on-year, while imports were worth Bt20.4 billion, a plunge of 15.5 per cent, resulting in a trade deficit of US$2.5 billion. However, Ms Srirat said the deficit was seasonal in which all the figures were lower than those of December the previous year.

The Jasmine or ‘Hom Mali’ rice saw an obvious plunge in exports to the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, while natural rubber hit its lowest price in the past four years and is in oversupply.

Meanwhile, potential export markets experienced contraction instead of expansion. The ASEAN market contracted by -5 per cent, Hong Kong at -14 per cent, and India at -11.6 per cent.

However, positive signs were seen in major markets. Japan saw a growth of 1.8 per cent, US 0.4 per cent, and Europe 4.6 per cent. As a result, Ms Srirat said the ministry is certain that Thailand’s exports this year will grow as planned at 5 per cent, based on the assumption that world’economic expansion is 3.7 per cent, global industrial materials at 1.3 per cent, and a Thai baht exchange rate at Bt31.5 against the US dollar.

Risk factors for exports are the political stalemate that may affect foreign importers of Thai goods fearing goods distribution delays and drought.