March exports up 7.06% on last year

March exports up 7.06% on last year

Customs-cleared exports increased at a slower pace in March than in the previous month, due partly to a high comparative base last year.

Exports rose 7.06% in March from a year earlier after increasing 10.3% in February, but the March value, US$22.36 billion, was a record high, commerce ministry data showed on Monday.

That slightly missed the median forecast of an 8% rise from economists polled by Reuters. The gains were led by stronger shipments of cars and parts, computers and parts, and chemicals.

Imports in March were up 9.47%, to $21.09 billion, from a year earlier after jumping 16% in February, and compared with a forecast of an 11.6% increase.

That resulted in a trade surplus of $1.27 billion in March, more than a forecast of a $700 million surplus, and compared with a surplus of $808 million in February.

Demand from most key markets were higher in March, except for shipments to China, which contracted 8.7 % year-on-year due to a high base last year, Pimchanok Vonkhorporn, a commerce ministry official, said.

In the January-March period, exports rose 11.29 %, to $62.83 billion, from a year earlier while imports jumped 16.16 % to $60.87 billion. The trade surplus was at $1.96 billion.

In March, exports of industrial products grew for the 13th consecutive month. High growth was with computers and parts, refined petrol, plastic pellets and electronic circuits.

Exports of farm and agro-industrial products shrank for the first time in 16 months, dropping 3.3%, due mainly to natural rubber and sugar. Export growth of farm products came from tapioca, rice and chicken.

The ministry targets an export growth of 8% this year, after a 9.9 % rise last year, despite a strong baht.

The baht has risen 3.9 % against the US dollar so far this year, hovering over four-year highs against the greenback.

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