The Commerce Ministry is keeping its export growth target of 1-2% this year despite Thai shipments falling for a seventh consecutive month in April.
Permanent commerce secretary Keerati Rushchano said on Tuesday the country's export outlook for May is expected to remain negative because of high inventory held by trading partners, causing a delay in orders for goods.
However, he said exports are likely to improve in the second half of the year.
"The ministry believes the global economy is facing a persistent slowdown. Although inflation rates have eased, they still remain relatively high, prompting many countries to adopt stringent monetary policies," said Mr Keerati.
"There are additional uncertainties stemming from the financial crisis affecting commercial banks in the US and Europe, as well as the debt ceiling problem in the US. These factors are contributing to an uncertain state for the global economy.
"However, a positive development is China's recent recovery over the past few months, which bodes well for Thai exports. Additionally, drought and unpredictable weather conditions have forced several nations to prioritise food security, creating a favourable environment for Thailand's agricultural exports this year."
The ministry reported on Tuesday the customs-cleared value of exports dipped for a seventh consecutive month in April, falling by 7.6% year-on-year to US$21.7 billion, while imports decreased by 7.3% to $23.2 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.47 billion.
In the first four months of 2023, Thai exports decreased by 5.2% year-on-year to $92 billion, while imports fell by 2.2% to $96.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $4.51 billion.
Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, said the 5.2% contraction in shipments beat the performance of many Asean peers such as Vietnam and Indonesia, which both experienced double-digit declines. Thailand fared well with agricultural and food products, as durian posted a remarkable growth rate of 102% year-on-year in April, while rice and other food items posted healthy export totals, he said.
Industrial goods shipments are lagging, specifically hard disk drives and electronic components, as exports to the US decreased, said Mr Chaichan. There are also concerns about plastic pellets, chemicals and textiles, which have declined for several months because of the contraction of the US market.
However, the improvements in China's economy have had a positive effect on Thai and Asean shipments, as they make up a major part of China's supply chain, he said. Furthermore, the textile industry in Vietnam is also performing well.
A weakening baht should facilitate exports, but the data must be monitored for May and June, said Mr Chaichan.
He said the export situation is expected to improve in the latter half of the year.