Thai exports up 17% in 2021, beating previous estimates

Thailand’s exports in 2021 grew by 17.14 per cent from a year earlier. It was the highest spike since 2009, driven by recovery in trade partners’ economies, the Ministry of Commerce said on Friday.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said export value in December rose 24.2 per cent year-on-year, yielding a 2021 full-year value at USD 271 billion, 17.14 per cent growth. The figures beat the ministry’s estimate of 16 per cent. 

Beside global economic recovery, Jurin cited the collaboration between the ministry and the private sector, the weakening of the baht, increased prices for fuel-related products as key drivers for export growth.

The import value jumped 33.4 per cent year-on-year in December, 29.8 per cent for the whole year to USD 268 billion. As a result, the nation’s trade surplus was USD 3.6 billion in 2021. 

In 2020 when multiple waves of the Covid-19 devastated the global economy, ​​Thailand saw a 6 per cent contraction in exports. 

Jurin set the export growth target at 3-4 per cent for 2022, while risk factors like prolonged Covid-19 outbreaks across the world, supply chain disruption, rising inflation, and labour shortages still pose threats to the country’s economic recovery. 

He also expects that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal will boost exports this year. And he maintains an optimistic outlook towards a shipping container shortage, which occurred last year. 

“The container shortage is likely to be solved by the second half of this year,” he added.

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