Trade deficit hits all-time high in January

Thailand's trade deficit for January totalled US$5.49 billion (165 billion baht), the highest ever recorded, permanent secretary for commerce Watcharee Wimuktayon said on Wednesday.

Although exports for January were up 16.09% month-on-month to stand at $18.27 billion, imports totalled $23.75 billion, an increase of 40.87% on December, she said.

The increase in exports was caused by seasonal expansion and stronger demand for Thai products from China. Imports were up on the back of more imports of oil, machinery and raw materials, she added.

Mrs Watcharee said exports of agricultural products rose by 7.2%, of which rice exports were up 31.3%, tapioca products 26.5%, frozen and processed seafood, excluding shrimp, 14.6% and fresh vegetables and fruits increased 23.3%.

Key industrial products went up 20.9%, including electronic components (up 29.8%), electrical appliances (up 20.5%), auto-parts (up 40.3%) and plastic pellets (up 22.8%).

Exports to all overseas markets were up 15.5%, including Japan (7.3%), the United States (16.7%), and the European Union (24.5%).

Imports also increased in all areas, energy rose 61%, capital goods were up 36.4%, raw materials went up 37.5%, consumer products were up 22.7%, vehicles and transportation equipment increased 70.3%, armaments and other products were up 87.8%.

Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri province, Thailand (EPA Photo)

Factors that pushed up imports included more oil imports due to expansion in the transport, production and export sectors, more imports of high-tech machinery that could not be locally made and new machinery by manufacturers, boosted by the baht's appreciation.

Other factors boosting imports were raw materials, including gold, jewellery, steel and chemical products, for use in the production of export products.

More imports of consumer goods, such as fruits, vegetables and electrical appliances during the Chinese New Year festival and the imports of automobile and auto-parts to serve an increasing domestic demand were also reasons behind the rise in the country’s imports.

Mrs Watcharee said the Commerce Ministry was not concerned over the record trade deficit in January because the imports of capital goods and raw materials were for producing products for export.

If gold and aircraft imports were deducted, the trade deficit figure over the month would be only about $2.15 billion.

The ministry had confidence that exports would grow by 8-9% in 2013, as targeted, with total export value between $247 billion and $250 billion, she said.

Related search: Thailand economy, trade deficit, imports, exports

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