The dollar value of Thai exports fell for a seventh straight month in April, down 7.6% from a year earlier, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday, as global demand remained slow.
The decline was far more than the 2% fall forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and came after a 4.2% drop in March.
Exports in April were valued at $21.72 billion, compared with $27.65 billion in March, which was the highest in 12 months, the ministry said.
The ministry said earlier that it was still maintaining its target of 1-2% export growth this year.
The country posted a trade deficit of $1.47 billion in April, versus a forecast deficit of $450 million, as imports showed a 7.3% year-on-year contraction.
In the January-April period, exports declined 5.2% from a year earlier, with imports down 2.2% and a trade deficit at $4.52 billion.
The Thai National Shippers Council said last week that Thai exports face numerous unpredictable factors, including a sluggish US economy, the slow pace of China’s economic recovery and the fluctuating value of the baht.
“It is necessary to intensify export promotion efforts in the second half,” he said. “We still see opportunities for growth, even in the US and EU, although the growth rate may be lower, while new markets such as Central Asia and Latin America still show good potential for growth.”
Poj Aramwattananont, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the most worrisome issue for exports is increasing production costs. Exporters have faced rising costs from energy, electricity and now the possibility of a higher minimum wage under a new government.