Exports down for 10th month

Exports down for 10th month

Minister cites 'tepid' trading environment

A worker stands crane's hoist line above stacked containers at a Bang Na depot. Containers are piling up as exports continue to fall, down 8.1% year-on-year in October. (Bloomberg photo)
A worker stands crane's hoist line above stacked containers at a Bang Na depot. Containers are piling up as exports continue to fall, down 8.1% year-on-year in October. (Bloomberg photo)

Exports plunged for a 10th straight month in October, with the blame again falling on soft demand from the weak global economy, plunging oil prices and volatile foreign exchange.

The Commerce Ministry said exports fell by 8.11% year-on-year last month to a value of US$18.6 billion. In the first 10 months, shipments were down by 5.32% year-on-year at $180 billion.

"The world economy has not recovered yet, while oil and farm product prices are still falling and exchange rates are volatile," Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said Tuesday.

A ministry report said exports of agricultural and agribusiness products fell by 10.3% last month to $2.87 billion, driven by lower shipments of rubber (-7.6%), rice (-17.6%), tapioca products (-11.4%) and frozen, processed and canned seafood (-25.8%).

Exports of industrial products fell by 6.6% to $14.6 billion, led by weakness in oil-related products such as finished oil, chemicals and plastic pellets.

Imports fell by 18.2% last month to $16.5 billion. October imports of capital goods rose by 2.5%, but raw material imports tumbled 21.3% and consumer goods slipped 9.1%, pointing to continued weakness in domestic demand.

For the first 10 months, imports fell by 11.3% to $170 billion.

"The global and Thai trading environment remains tepid," Mrs Apiradi said.

"It's fortunate that the contraction of Thai shipments remained low last month compared with those of other countries such as Australia (-21.7%), France (-13.7%), Singapore (-14.6%) and Japan (-9.3%)."

The Commerce Ministry is maintaining its export view of a 3% decline this year.

The government's planning unit, the National Economic and Social Development Board, last Monday said Thai export value would contract by 5% this year but rise by 3% next year.

In related news, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said Tuesday that automobile exports rose by 19.1% year-on-year last month to 111,229 vehicles for an export value of 60 billion baht, up by 36.44%.

The surge was propelled by pickup trucks bound for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and eco-cars shipped to Europe and North America.

Vehicle exports over the first 10 months totalled 1.02 million units, up by 9.03%, worth 492 billion baht, up by 11.7%.

Surapong Paisitpatanapong, a spokesman for the FTI's automotive industry club, voiced confidence that overall vehicle exports would exceed the club's target of 1.2 million this year.

The club said car output last month rose by 3.52% year-on-year to 165,381 vehicles but fell by 3.57% month-on-month.

For the first 10 months, car output edged up 1.84% to 1.6 million vehicles.

The club said 67,908 vehicles were sold in the domestic market in October, down by 4.2% year-on-year but up by 9.8% month-on-month.

Domestic car sales fell by 13.6% to 621,740 vehicles in the first 10 months. Mr Surapong said full-year domestic sales would probably reach 750,000 vehicles.

Sarun Sunansathaporn, a Bank of Ayudhya (BAY) economist, said exports in the final two months would have to rise by 8.8% year-on-year just to achieve the Commerce Ministry's target of a 3% fall.

BAY forecasts exports to record a mild pickup to 2% growth next year, snapping a three-year losing streak, for three reasons.

"First, export volume is likely to pick up gradually, supported by a moderate pace of recovery in advanced economies, offsetting a further economic slowdown in China," Mr Sarun said.

"Second, the reduction of tariffs for Thai goods in neighbouring countries after the Asean Economic Community takes effect this year-end could strengthen a growing trend in those markets.

"Third, the base effects from export prices dragging on export growth will fade over time."

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