By PHUWIT LIMVIPHUWAT
Figures in the October trade report also show that overall export growth has rebounded from the previous month’s decline, expanding by up to 8.7 per cent month on month.
“From this positive result, we will maintain the 8 per cent annual export growth target for both 2018 and 2019,” the director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office, Pimchanok Vonkorpon, told a press conference yesterday.
“After measuring up the negative and positive impacts of the ongoing trade war between the US and China, we have calculated that Thailand’s exports have benefited from this economic conflict to the value of $146 million,” she said.
Various Thai exports to the US have increased as they replaced the former Chinese products that are now under heavy tariffs. For example, export of automobiles and parts to the US have increased by 26.1 per cent, while that of steel products increased by up to 89.2 per cent in October.
However, the director-general cautioned that the trade war will only lead to short-term benefits and that in the long run, it will be harmful to trade, investments, the stock market and the capital flows of Thailand. She noted the trade war had also resulted in the reduction of various Thai exports to China, such as that of automobiles and parts, which fell by 12 per cent, and that of computer parts and circuits that fell by 18.4 per cent in October.
“The real harm of the trade war is not the reduction in export growth month on month, but the uncertainty and loss of confidence by investors that comes with the economic conflict. If this trade war escalates further, investors will be reluctant to make large-scale investments and the stock market will continue to grow more volatile, as we have seen so far this year,” she said.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s exports in October 2018 rebounded from last month’s contraction with a value of $21.8 billion, growing by 8.7 per cent month on month.
The export value for the first 10 months of 2018 expanded by 8.2 per cent, exceeding the Commerce Ministry’s target of 8 per cent for 2018.
On the import side, its value in October 2018 increased 11.2 per cent to $22 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $280 million. However, Thailand still maintains a trade surplus for the first 10 months of this year, valued at $2.559 billion.
The export growth in October can be attributed to the maturing of Thai exports in various markets, allowing them to continue to expand in value. Japan saw Thai exports grow by 18.7 per cent this month, while India saw 12 per cent growth, and Thai exports to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam grew by 18.2 per cent. Most importantly, exports to China are now back on track with a positive growth at 3 per cent, Pimchanok explained.
On the downside, she noted that export growths to some other markets showed a slight contraction in October, including to Australia, the Middle East, Latin America and Russia.
Key products driving the October export growth included industrial products, which grew by 6.8 per cent; oil-related products, which grew by 29.1 per cent; and facsimile, telephone and parts, which grew by 33.7 per cent.
The agricultural industry also saw rising exports in October, with 12.2 per cent overall growth, led by various products such as sugar and rice at 77.8 per cent and 28.2 per cent respectively, she said.