Thai exports are maintaining their growth momentum, surging by 20.2% year-on-year in July despite ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks.
The increase was boosted by the robust global economic recovery, depreciation of the Thai baht, rising oil prices, and export promotions by the Commerce Ministry and the private sector.
The Commerce Ministry yesterday reported customs-cleared exports hit a value of US$22.65 billion, with imports increasing by 45.9% to $22.47 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $183.46 million.
It was the fifth consecutive month of increases, after gains of 43.8% in June, 41.6% in May, 13.1% in April and 8.47% in March, following a 2.59% contraction in February.
For the first seven months of 2021, Thai exports expanded by 16.2% to $154.99 billion while imports rose by 28.7% to $152.36 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $2.62 billion.
Real sector exports (excluding gold, oil-related products, and weaponry) also continued to soar by 25.38% from July last year.
According to the ministry's statistics, agricultural and agro-industrial product exports rose by 24.3% year-on-year in July to $3.84 billion, led by fresh, chilled, frozen, canned and processed vegetables and fruits (+80.2%), rubber (+121.2%), cassava products (+62.0%), pet food (+17.3%), animal or vegetable fats and oils (+51.7%), wheat-related products and ready to eat food (+8.4%).
Industrial product exports also increased 18% year-on-year in July to $17.96 billion. Top gainers included automobiles and parts (+39.2%), rubber products (+16.0%), oil-related products (+59.0%), gems and jewellery -- excluding gold (+43.8%), computers, equipment and parts (+19.3%), iron, steel, and its products (+59.4%).
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said lockdown measures may have impacted the manufacturing sector, especially between August and September, because of the closures of some fruit factories and inconvenient transportation of fruit exports from Thailand through Laos, Vietnam, China and Malaysia because of the Covid-19 outbreaks.
According to Mr Jurin, despite container shortages easing thanks to more container imports, expensive freight rates persisted.
However, he said the ministry will continue to drive the country's exports in the remaining months of the year, with more than 130 activities planned to be organised in the second half of 2021 in order to boost Thai exports and reach new potential markets such as the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said the country's overall export prospects looked good, with an expansionist trend anticipated in August and September.
"Based on the results in the first seven months, we strongly believe Thai exports will grow by more than 10% or possibly 11-12%," said Mr Chaichan.