Exports show first uptick in eight months as global economy revives, beating estimates

Thailand’s exports value in December gained year-on-year for the first time in eight months, by 4.71 per cent to USD 20.08 billion, beating market estimates of an 1.3 – 2.4-per-cent contraction, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday.

The exports figure hit a record high in 22 months. The value of Thai imports expanded by 3.62 per cent to USD 19.12 billion, contributing to a trade surplus in December of USD 963.6 million.

For the full-year record of 2020, Thai exports saw a contraction of 6.01 per cent to USD 231.47 billion. Imports dropped 12.39 per cent to 206.99 billion, with a yearly trade surplus of USD 24.47 billion.

In November exports declined 3.65 per cent from the same month a year earlier, and stood at USD 18.9 billion.

December’s improvements came in line with a recovering global economy coupled with the development of major trading partners especially in the Asia region, said Pimchanok Vonkorpon, the director-general of the Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office.

The main export drivers were food products, electric appliances for the work-from-home trend, and products related to the pandemic such as medical equipment and rubber gloves. Also, plastic resins, chemicals, electric circuits, and computer components products were recovering in accordance with the rise in the manufacturing sector, the trade office said.

The full-year record was not as low as the Ministry of Commerce had predicted, namely a 7-per-cent contraction. The trade office expected Thai exports to grow 4 per cent in 2021 while the main risk would be the Covid-19 outbreak situation.

The forecast from the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) was that the exports could recover and expand 3.6 per cent this year to USD 237 billion if a Covid-19 vaccine proves to be effective and sufficient as hoped.

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