Cross-border commerce falls short

Cross-border commerce falls short

Cross-border trade fell by 3.4% in 2019, weighed down by the strong baht, volatile foreign exchange and the prolonged trade war.

The Commerce Ministry's Foreign Trade Department said on Tuesday that the country's overall cross-border trade, including transit trade, amounted to 1.337 trillion baht, falling short of the 1.6-trillion-baht target.

Transit trade involves the passage of goods through more than one country.

Of the total figures, exports from Thailand totalled 749.42 billion baht, down 2.7% from the year before, with imports shrinking 4.3% to 587.86 billion baht, resulting in a trade surplus of 161.56 billion baht in 2019.

According to Keerati Rushchano, director-general of the Foreign Trade Department, Thailand's border trade with four neighbouring countries amounted to 1.06 trillion baht, down 4.6% from 2018.

Of total trade with the four neighbours, exports made up 612.49 billion baht, down 5.3%. Imports were worth 456.76 billion baht, down 3.6%. Thailand secured a trade surplus of 155.72 billion baht with the four.

Malaysia remained the biggest partner for border trade, with two-way trade amounting to 514.06 billion baht, followed by Laos (197.52 billion baht), Myanmar (196.40 billion baht) and Cambodia (161.26 billion baht).

The department said transit trade with Singapore, Vietnam and southern China continued to rise last year, totalling 268.03 billion baht, up 1.4% from the previous year. Exports rose by 10.7% to 136.93 billion baht, while imports dipped 6.7% to 131.09 billion baht.

Transit trade to southern China fetched the greatest value at 130.44 billion baht, followed by Singapore (72.73 billion baht) and Vietnam (64.84 billion baht).

Mr Keerati said cross-border trade was pressured by a spate of negative factors: continuous baht appreciation, the global economic slowdown, the unabated US-China trade row and unstable foreign exchange.

Trade with Malaysia saw a drop on a continuous basis, led by rubber, computers and rubber products, while the trading situation with Laos also remained in decline, with weakness in diesel, automobiles and parts, and livestock products.

Cross-border trade with Myanmar eked out growth, but at a slower pace, driven by diesel, non-alcoholic drinks, fabric and yarn.

Trade with Cambodia, however, registered good growth, particularly for non-alcoholic drinks, automobiles and parts, and motorcycles.

According to Mr Keerati, this year's target will be discussed at a March meeting of the committee handling border trade and investment promotion with neighbouring countries, to be chaired by Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit.

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