Thailand's export value in April contracted by 0.87 per cent from the same period last year, to US$17.25 billion, according to the Commerce Ministry.
In March, the value contracted by 3.12 per cent on year.
Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, the director-general of the International Trade Promotion Department, attributed the monthly contraction to a decline in gold export. The year-on-year export value of manufacturing goods consequently dropped by 0.2 per cent, though goods in some sectors like garment, electrical appliances and construction materials still showed growth.
Cumulative export value in the first four months of this year contracted 0.97 per cent from the same period last year, to $73.46 billion.
Despite the low growth rate, the Commerce Ministry still maintains the annualised export growth target at 5 per cent, on the assumption that the global economy would expand by 3.6-3.7 per cent as predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It would also achieve the target given that the prices of manufacturing raw materials will rise by 1.3 per cent this year. The target is based on the foreign exchange rateof 31.5 per US dollar.
Nuntawan is convinced that Thailand's exports would show 4-4.5 per cent growth in the second quarter, thanks mainly to the recovery of major trade partners like the United States and European Union.
Oders placed in May have been on the rise, particularly for manufacturing and agro-industrial goods, she added.
Thailand's exports to China continued the decline, with a 9.5 per cent drop in April. In the first four months of this year, exports to this destination dropped by 5.6 per cent, while exports to Asean-5 market contracted by 10.4 per cent. In April, it was also the first time in this year that Thailand's exports to Japan contracted (4.5 per cent), as higher value-added tax (VAT) dented domestic demand.
In a research note, Siam Commercial Bank, which forecasts 4 per cent annualised export growth for this year, said that it is likely that the target may not be achieve given the slump in computer and accessories export in the past two months as well as the absence of recovery in agricultural products like rubber. Computer and accessories contribute around 8 per cent of total export value.
Kasikorn Research Centre however foresaw the export recovery, starting in this quarter. It maintained the export growth target at 3-6 per cent.
In a research note, it said that export may pick up in the next 1-2 months as companies in some industries like electronics and electrical appliances plan to boost capacity.