Commerce Ministry sticking with 8% export growth outlook

Commerce Ministry sticking with 8% export growth outlook

International Trade Promotion director-general Banjongjitt Angsusingh: Exports are still 'relatively strong'
International Trade Promotion director-general Banjongjitt Angsusingh: Exports are still 'relatively strong'

Despite the state planning agency painting a murky picture of exports, the Commerce Ministry remains resolute in its 8% growth forecast for this year and next.

Banjongjitt Angsusingh, director-general of the ministry's International Trade Promotion Department, said Tuesday that exports are relatively strong despite a 5.2% year-on-year decline in September.

She predicted that exports would fetch an average US$21 billion (692.37 billion baht) a month for the remaining three months of 2018.

For the first nine months, exports grew 8.1% to $189.72 billion, with imports rising 15.2% to $186.89 billion, yielding a trade surplus of $2.83 billion.

The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to announce its October export reading today.

"The impact of the deepening trade row between the US and China is unlikely to be as heavy as feared," Ms Banjongjitt said. "Thai products are still seeing higher demand, and we believe that Thai exports can achieve the 8% growth target to $255.56 billion."

After a weaker economic performance in the third quarter, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) on Monday downgraded its 2018 GDP growth forecast to 4.2% from the previous 4.2-4.7% range and its export outlook to 7.2% growth from an earlier projection of 10%.

For 2019, the NESDB expects GDP growth of 3.5-4.5%, with exports rising 4.6%.

The board reported that GDP showed no growth in the third quarter from the second on a seasonally adjusted basis, after growing 0.9% in the second quarter and 2% in the first.

On an annual basis, growth was 3.3% from July to September, easing from the second quarter's 4.6% and the first quarter's revised 4.9% growth, which was the highest in five years.

For the first nine months, the economy grew by 4.3% year-on-year.

Ms Banjongjitt said the Commerce Ministry is maintaining its export growth forecast of 8% in 2019 to $276.01 billion, or an average of $23 billion a month.

She said the growth will be driven by the Asean market (+8.3%), China and Hong Kong (+12%), South Asia (+8%), Russia and CIS (+10%), East Asia including Taiwan, Japan and South Korea (+7%), the EU (+3%), North America (6.1%), the Middle East (+3%), Latin America (+6%) and Australia (6%).

In a bid to overcome risk factors such as the trade war and foreign exchange volatility, the International Trade Promotion Department plans to organise more than 500 activities locally and globally to promote Thai products in 2019.

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