Thai exports surged 16.1% in January from the same month last year as a global recovery boosted demand.
Overseas sales rose for a fifth straight month in January to reach US$18.3 billion after climbing to a 13.5% gain in December. In baht terms, exports rose by 13.6% last month to 555 billion baht.
January's exports rose in all product segments, with the agricultural and agro-industrial sector increasing by 7.2% to $3.18 billion, mainly for rice, tapioca products, frozen, canned and processed seafood, shrimp, fruit and vegetables, and frozen and processed chicken. Shipments in the industrial sector rose by 20.9% to $11.5 billion due largely to the electronics, electrical appliances, automobiles and auto parts, plastics and plastic pellets, textiles, construction materials, rubber products, paper and packaging, leatherwear and furniture segments.
Imports totalled $23.8 billion in the period, up by 40.9% year-on-year, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.48 billion or 176 billion baht, the widest gap since 1991.
The surge in last month's imports was attributed mainly to capital goods, particularly gold, fuel oil, advanced technology and machinery, and aircraft purchases by national carrier Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) to capitalise on the baht appreciation.
Thailand's gold imports in January amounted to $2.7 billion, the highest since September 2011, while the three jets cost THAI $660 million. If the gold and planes were excluded, the trade deficit would only be $2.11 billion last month.
''Export activities have returned to normal as factories stepped up their output after recovering from the floods of 2011, while a global recovery has boosted demand for rice, seafood and electrical appliances,'' said Vatchari Vimooktayon, the commerce permanent secretary.
''Japan's weak yen policy also helps exports, particularly for Japanese automotive products that are manufactured here. We still believe the baht issue remains manageable and a growth target of 8-9% this year to $247-250 billion is achievable.''
About the author
- Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter