By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Commerce Ministry hopeful despite March decline
The Commerce Ministry expects Thai export to grow 7-9 per cent in the second half thanks to the recovery of the global economy, despite a drop in shipments last month.
The ministry said exports in March dropped 3.12 per cent year on year to US$19.94 billion (Bt642.7 billion), while shipments in the first quarter shrank by 1 per cent to $56.21 billion.
“Shipments should show a stronger sign of recovery in the second quarter and second half of the year. The recovery of the global economy and weakening baht should also be major positive factors to promote trade growth, despite some concerns over political uncertainty,” said Srirat Rastapana, permanent secretary of the Commerce Ministry.
The ministry expects shipments in the current second quarter to expand by about 4-4.5 per cent year on year to between $58.6 billion and $58.9 billion in value. Export in the second half will rise by 7-9 per cent in value, to between $123.5 billion and $125.8 billion.
With a positive outlook to trade growth, the ministry is confident that annualised export this year will grow by 5 per cent as targeted, and if the political chaos can be brought to an end, shipments should expand by 10 per cent this year.
To drive more economic growth for the Kingdom, Srirat said the ministry would soon draw a strategic plan for promotion of both exports and domestic spending amid concerns about political problems.
The positive factors the ministry foresees in the coming months are a recovery in the global economy, a clearing of disease in shrimp farms, and Japan’s allowing the export of Thai frozen chicken again.
The International Monetary Fund has adjusted its forecast for this year’s global economic growth from 3 per cent last year to 3.6 per cent his year.
The baht has been weakening compared with other Asian currencies, with the exception of the Indonesian rupiah, which weakened by 13.51 per cent, while the baht depreciated by 6.28 per cent in the first quarter.
Srirat said a weaker baht should help boost exports this year. The currency has averaged at Bt32.66 against the US dollar between January and March.
However, there are still some negative factors affecting export growth, including political conflict, drought that is lowering the output of farm production, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the United States’ plan to cut the Generalised System of Preferences on Thai products, and rising competition in the world market.
In addition, the ministry reported that Thailand’s imports in March had dropped by 14.19 per cent year on year to $18.48 billion. Imports in the first quarter of the year were down by 15.41 per cent to $55.5 billion. As a result, Thailand entered a trade surplus of $1.45 billion in March and saw a $706-million surplus in the first quarter.
Exports in the industrial sector grew 1.9 per cent last month, though the export of agricultural and agri-industrial goods dropped 8.2 per cent.
Fuel imports last month were down by 9.7 per cent year on year, while the import of capital goods and raw materials and semi-raw materials also dropped by 14.8 and 19.3 per cent respectively because of the depreciation of baht.
Gold imports last month dropped 68.1 per cent year on year to $468 million.