Commerce Ministry: March imports hit record high

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ANGKOK, 27 April 2012 – Thailand’s imports hit a record high in March after the private sector actively brought in machinery and capital goods to revive their flooded plants. 

Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol said on Thursday that Thai export value in March stood at 19.86 billion US dollars, down 6.54 percent from the same month of last year.

According to official data, agricultural exports recorded the biggest average decrease of 21.3 percent, while industrial exports shrunk 7.4 percent. However, auto and parts exports have shown signs of recovery with an increase of 6.7 percent.

For Q1 of 2012, the country’s exports totaled 54.64 billion dollars, or 3.92 percent lower than the same period of last year, with most markets reporting a decline except the US, ASEAN, China and South Korea.

On the other hand, Mr. Poom said that Thai imports registered the biggest record in history, with an on-year increase of 25.62 percent, as a result of heavy imports of machinery and other goods by plants submerged in last year’s severe flooding.

In details, passenger car imports recorded the highest surge in value, by 111.97 percent while fuel imports expanded 68.27 percent, and machinery and parts imports increased 42.24 percent.

Accordingly, Thailand’s import value in the first quarter of 2012 was 59.82 billion dollars, or a 10.45-percent year-on-year increase.

In terms of trade balance, the month of March saw a trade deficit of 4.59 billion dollars, which is a record high, while the first quarter of the year’s figures were 5.19 billion dollars.

The Deputy Commerce Minister, however, affirmed that the 2012 export growth target remains at 15 percent. He also expressed confidence that Thai exports in the second quarter will pick up considerably after the industrial sector has returned to full capacity and due to the government’s determination to boost trade within the ASEAN region to make up for shrinking demand in EU.