Full-year export target in doubt after weak start

First-half shipments grew by less than 1%

The government says 2013 export growth is unlikely to reach the target range of 7% to 7.5% after a marginal first-half performance.

Commerce Ministry figures released yesterday showed that exports in the first six months totalled US$113 billion, up just 0.95% year-on-year. In local-currency terms, shipments contracted by 3.7% to 3.34 trillion baht.

Imports for the period amounted to $129 billion, up by 4.3%, for a trade deficit of $15.8 billion.June exports fell by 3.4% year-on-year to $19.1 billion, down by 8.5% to 564 billion baht in the local currency.

Shipments fell in both the agribusiness and industrial sectors. Agribusiness exports plunged 7.1% to $2.84 billion last month, while industrial exports fell by 3.8% to $12.6 billion.

The drop was blamed mainly on the global economic slowdown.

June imports rose by 3% to $21 billion for a monthly trade deficit of $1.91 billion.

Benjarong Suwankiri, a first vice-president of TMB Analytics, TMB Bank's research unit, said June exports fared worse than expected.

Earlier, TMB forecast export growth of 3.5% in June.

"There's a chance that exports will grow less than 3% this year now that the global economy is yet to be addressed and China's economy is weaker than expected," said Mr Benjarong.

Vatchari Vimooktayon, the commerce permanent secretary, acknowledged the ministry may need to review its full-year export target.

"It's now highly likely that exports will grow at the same rate as last year at 3% to $236 billion compared with $229 billion posted in 2012," said Mrs Vatchari.

Srirat Rastapana, director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, said the global economy has yet to recover as expected, making it tough for Thai exports to achieve set targets.

The new working target could be within a range of 6% to 6.5%, she said.

"Despite several agencies predicting Thai export growth of 4-5% this year, we're trying our best to boost Thai exports," she said, adding that her department is talking to the private sector about measures to stimulate direct purchases and promote new markets.

The Commerce Ministry is due to meet in September to re-evaluate the country's export target.

"It must be admitted that the buying countries have no purchasing power," said Mrs Srirat.

"My department has thus tried to promote market diversification without relying on one particular market, while the government itself is focusing on promoting growth domestically."

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Writer: Phusadee Arunmas
Position: Business Reporter