Export surge gives a boost to fragile Thai economy

The Bank of Thailand last week predicted exports would fall 0.6 per cent this year and be flat next year.
The Bank of Thailand last week predicted exports would fall 0.6 per cent this year and be flat next year.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • Thailand's Customs- cleared exports surged last month, thanks to higher demand from major markets, an encouraging sign for the trade-dependent country whose economy has been struggling to regain traction.

Exports jumped 10.2 per cent from a year earlier, Commerce Ministry data showed yesterday, compared with the median forecast for a 1.55 per cent rise in a Reuters poll and October's 4.2 per cent drop.

The percentage gain was the highest for a month since February.

Higher global oil prices helped lift demand for Thai oil-related goods last month and overall shipments should increase this year, a ministry official told a briefing.

Imports last month increased 3.0 per cent from a year earlier. Economists had expected a fall of 1.05 per cent after a rise of 6.5 per cent in October.

The November figures produced a trade surplus of US$1.54 billion (S$2 billion), triple the expectation for a US$500 million one. October produced a US$250 million surplus.

Many materials that Thailand imports are assembled into completed goods and shipped out again. Thai exports, worth about two-thirds of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), have contracted the past three years, frustrating the military government's efforts to revive the economy.

The Bank of Thailand last week predicted exports would fall 0.6 per cent this year and be flat next year.

It maintained its GDP growth forecast at 3.2 per cent for both this year and next. The economy expanded 2.8 per cent last year.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2016, with the headline 'Export surge gives a boost to fragile Thai economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe