Thai exports up 16.8% in June: Commerce Ministry

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BANGKOK, July 21 — Thai exports in June rose by 16.8 per cent year-on-year to a record of over US$21 billion while imports climbed to around $19.8 billion, up 26.1 per cent, from a year earlier, outgoing Commerce Minister Pornthiva Nakasai announced on Thursday.

The country’s rising exports in June were driven by growth in all key sectors, particularly agricultural and agro-industry produce which increased by 48.9 per cent. Also, the exports of major industrial products rose by 6.1 per cent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, Thai exports in the first six months of 2011 posted a record of $114.9 billion, a 23.6 per cent increase, compared to the same period last year, Mrs Pornthiva said.

Exports to key markets steadily grew by 19 per cent, particularly those to Japan which expanded by 38 per cent, while the shipments to secondary markets increased by 11.4 per cent.

The June’s imports accelerated by 26.1 per cent year-on-year, worth $19.8 billion, recording rises in all categories, including raw material products by 38.3 per cent, capital goods by 22.4 per cent and energy products by 20.1 per cent.

The imports in the first half of this year were valued more than $111.5 billion, a 28.5 per cent growth, compared to the same period last year.

Thailand enjoyed trade surplus of over $1.26 billion in June and nearly $3.45 billion in the 2011 first six months.

Regarding cross border trade, the minister added that that exports to neighbouring countries posted a record of $76.6 billion, up 8.2 per cent in June and were worth $446.1 billion, a 14.8 per cent increase, in the first half of this year.

Mrs Pornthiva also said that the commerce ministry still projects that overall shipments are likely to expand by between 12 and 15 per cent in 2011.

However, there are some risk factors to be monitored, including oil prices, global possible commodity price hike, baht currency, interest rate and labour shortages.

The Japanese government’s economic-recovery policy to deal with its economic recession in the second half of this year due to the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami is another risk factor.

Following the global economic recovery, Thailand holds an advantage as the world’s leading producer of agricultural produce, Mrs Pornthiva said.

In the meantime, the outgoing minister also asked the upcoming government and the new commerce minister to monitor and focus on export expansion as she believed that the Thai exports have potential to grow.

Though the ministry projected the overall exports in 2011 to grow by 15 per cent, Mrs Pornthiva said that the new government can expand export growth by 20 per cent.

She urged the new government to pay attention to all categories of goods, particularly those by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and advised it to seek benefits from free trade area (FTA) agreements with other countries and to expand more markets through trade negotiations.