August exports surge fastest in 55 months 

Economy September 22, 2017 01:00

By   THE NATION

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EXPORTS rallied for the sixth straight month in August, surging by the fastest pace in 55 months thanks to increased shipments of agricultural and agro-industry products.



This steady resurgence has reinforced the Commerce Ministry’s confidence in achieving the whole year’s export growth target of 7 per cent on the back of economic recoveries in major trading partners.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said exports grew 13.23 per cent year-on-year in August to US$21.22 billion, marking the highest export value in six years since August 2011.

In the month, imports climbed 14.93 per cent to $19.13 billion, leaving the balance of trade enjoying a surplus of $2.09 billion.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said August exports mirrored the improvement in the overall economy.

“Exports of agricultural and agro-industry products also rose for the 10th consecutive month, while exports of manufacturing products went up for the sixth straight month,” Apiradi said.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of Trade Policy and Strategy Office under the ministry, said that, following the global economic recovery, last month saw increases in shipments of agricultural products and export volumes 

Shipments of manufacturing products also expanded, despite the decline in shipments of automobiles.

August’s shipments of agricultural and agro-industry products soared 24.7 per cent from a year earlier, led by rice, sugar, processed and canned frozen fruits and vegetables, and rubber. 

Shipments of manufacturing products in the month advanced 12.2 per cent, driven by rubber products, chemical products, plastic pellets, and computers and components. 

However, shipments of automobiles and parts dropped by 20.8 per cent and of air-conditioners by 15.1 per cent.

Pimchanok also cited economic recoveries in Thailand’s trading partners for August’s exports uptrend.

“The 13.23-per-cent annual increase in exports followed increases in major destinations particularly China, CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam), Japan and the United States,” Apiradi said.

By destinations, exports last month rose 7.4 per cent to the US, 11.7 per cent to Japan and 3.7 per cent to the EU. 

Exports to China surged 25.5 per cent, while exports to CLMV jumped 17.2 per cent.

For the first eight months of this year, exports speeded up by 8.87 per cent, the fastest in six years, to $153.62 billion, while imports zoomed 15.42 per cent to $144.75 billion. The trade surplus totalled $8.87 billion over the first eight months.

Given the export figures, this year’s rise in exports is on track to reach the target of 7 per cent, Apiradi said. For the rest of this year, from August-December, if exports run at a $19.21-billion monthly clip, growth will follow the target, she said, expressing confidence in export figures for the remaining months of this year after exports beat the monthly target set for August.

If the baht does not appreciate too much or does not move with too much volatility, exports will continue gaining momentum for the rest of this year, Somkid said.

The Trade Policy and Strategy Office expects no impact on Thai exports from the baht’s strengthening to 33-34 per US dollar, as prices have already been agreed upon for the rest of this year.

Thailand will also not lose its competitive advantage over its regional peers, as they have also seen their currencies appreciate.

Montree Socatiyanurak, director of the National Development Institute, believes the export expansion will last for the rest of this year, driven by tourism, the government’s acceleration of budget disbursement, and exports, although the baht is 6.5 per cent higher than at the beginning of this year.