Exports rose by a more than expected 16.2% in February from a year earlier on improved global demand while the Russia-Ukraine war had yet to affect trade, the commerce minister said on Thursday.
That compares with a forecast for a rise of 10.2% in February in a Reuters poll and after January's 8% increase. Imports increased 16.8% year-on-year in February, with a trade surplus of $123 million in the month.
The effects of the war should be reflected in trade from March, which warranted close monitoring, Jurin Laksanawisit told a news conference.
While the conflict would affect logistics routes and oil prices, it was an opportunity for several countries including Thailand to enter markets that Russia and Ukraine exported to, he said.
Poj Aramwattananont, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said while trade with Russia was small, uncertainty and confusion over the conflict would further drive up the costs of transportation and capital goods which could affect export manufacturing.
In the first two months of 2022, exports, a key driver of growth, rose 12.2% from a year earlier, already exceeding the ministry's forecast for a rise of 3% to 4% in shipments for the whole year, Jurin said.
Imports in January-February increased 18.7% from a year earlier, with a trade deficit of $2.4 billion over the period.
For the year, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told a news conference he expected exports to rise by 5% to 10%.That compares with a forecast for a rise of 10.2% in February in a Reuters poll and after January's 8% increase. Imports increased 16.8% year-on-year in February, with a trade surplus of $123 million in the month.