Exports rise 2.1% in April on boost from agriculture, gold

Exports rise 2.1% in April on boost from agriculture, gold

Sukhothai gold ornaments made by smiths at the Onanong Chang Thong gold shop. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Sukhothai gold ornaments made by smiths at the Onanong Chang Thong gold shop. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Customs-based exports in April unexpectedly rose 2.12% from a year earlier, helped by higher shipments of agricultural products, food and gold, the Commerce Ministry said on Friday.

The result compared with a Reuters poll forecast for a fall of 4.6% in exports, a major driver of Thai growth, and against March's surprise 4.17% increase.

Exports, excluding gold, fell 10.31% year-on-year, likely reflecting the underlying weakness in global trade amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Exports of agricultural and agro-industrial products expanded 4.03%, corresponding to rising global food demand during lockdowns to curb the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Rice exports bounced back in 18 months and increased 23.1%. Exports of Industrial products grew 4.05%, led by golds, aircrafts, electric circuits, and medical supplies.

Exports to major markets the United States and Japan continued to grow significantly. Exports to Hong Kong and Taiwan maintained positive growth for the second and tenth consecutive month respectively, of which exports of electronic circuits rose remarkably at a two-digit level.

However, the severe spread of the novel coronavirus in Europe, especially in Italy, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, suppressed exports to 15 European Union countries last month, the Commerce Ministry said.

The spike in gold exports highlighted the risk aversion effects arising from Covid-19 and global economic slowdown, resulting in rising golds prices and large exports to Switzerland, Singapore, and Hong Kong. In addition, global oil prices have suppressed exports of oil-related products, in particular, to Asean and CLMV markets. Excluding gold, oil, and weaponry, Thai exports in April 2020 contracted 7.53%, the ministry said.

For the first four months of 2020, exports expanded 1.19%. Excluding gold, oil, and weaponry, exports contracted 0.96%.

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