Exports grow, industries' confidence drops

Exports grow, industries' confidence drops

Exports rose 10% year-on-year in February, but the industries' sentiment index fell for the first time in four months on concerns about costs.

The Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday that exports were valued at US$20.36 billion in February, up 10.3% year- on-year. Exports in the first two months of 2018 rose 13.8% to $40.47 billion.

Imports last month were valued at $19.56 billion, up 16%. The value of imports in the first two months amounted to $39.78 billion, rising by 20.1%.

Thailand posted a trade surplus of $807 million last month and $688.5 million in the first two months of this year.

However, despite export figures, Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries, said the Thai Industries Sentiment Index was down for the first time in four months in February, to 89.9 from 91.0, in January, on the cost of raw materials and labour.

Last month confidence fell among small and medium-sized industries due to fierce competition, concerns about prices of raw materials and the rise in the minimum wage, he said.

Exporters were worried about trade barriers, which tended to increase, he said.

On the upside, large-scale industry confidence remained good, Mr Chen said.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Commerce Ministry's trade and policy and strategy office, said growth in the value of exports in the first two months was the highest for seven years. Exports were up to the United States, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

Exports of farm products increased for the 16th consecutive month, especially rice, chicken and tapioca due to their prices.

Exports of natural rubber, sugar and seafood declined slightly. Industrial exports grew for the 12th consecutive month on automobiles and parts, computers and parts, and internal combustion engines and parts.

The Commerce Ministry expected exports to grow 8% throughout this year, Ms Pimchanok said.

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