December exports top forecast, 2022 exports seen up 3-4%

December exports top forecast, 2022 exports seen up 3-4%

Thailand's exports rose more than expected in December from a year earlier, with full-2021 growth coming at 17.1%, the highest in 11 years, helped by stronger global demand and a weak baht, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said on Friday.

In December, exports increased 24.2% from a year earlier, beating a forecast for a rise of 15.5% in a Reuters poll, and after November's 24.7% increase.

Exports, a key driver of Thailand's growth, are forecast to rise by 3% to 4% in 2022, as solid global demand is expected to continue, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told a news conference.

The baht currency is likely to remain supportive and a container shortage is expected to ease, Mr Jurin said.

Thailand's participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade deal will also be a boost, he added.

However, risks to exports this year include the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and higher inflation in other countries, ministry officials said.

In December, exports to the United States rose 36.5% from a year earlier. Shipments to China increased 14% from a year earlier while those to the Southeast Asian countries rose 24%, ministry data showed.

Imports jumped 33.4% in December from a year earlier and rose 29.8% in the whole of 2021.

The country recorded a trade deficit of $354 million in December but a trade surplus of $3.57 billion in all 2021.

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