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US market a boon for Thai exporters as trade war bites

Aug 22. 2019
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By WICHIT CHAITRONG
THE NATION

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Thailand’s exports to the US rose by double digits in the first seven months of the year, partly due to the ongoing US-China trade war, which is making importers turn to Thailand.

As of July 30, Thai exports to the US had risen 16.4 per cent to US$18.5 billion (Bt569.31 billion), closely followed by Thai exports to China at $16.3 billion for the same period. In July alone, Thai exports to the US rose 9.8 per cent to $2.5 billion. 

Exports to the US accounted for 12.8 per cent of Thailand’s total exports, followed by 11.3 per cent to China from January to July this year, the Commerce Ministry said. 

Last year, exports to the US accounted for 11.1 per cent of total exports, compared to 12 per cent to China. 

“The growth of Thai exports to the US in the first seven months is high, partly due to the ongoing trade war and also because Thailand offers diversified products that can meet market demands there,” Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office, said.

Thailand exports many different kinds of products to the US, such as rubber products, autos and auto parts, steel products, electrical home appliances, frozen food and home decorations, she said, adding that the prospect of the US market looks good overall. 

Thai exports in July bounced back to 4.28 per cent with a total value of $21.2 billion (Bt652.3 billion), largely from gold exports as a safe-haven asset, the Commerce Ministry said, while exports not including gold and oil products, rose by 1.6 per cent.

“These figures provide us with some relief as we are seeing the export sector turn around and we expect a rise in the rest of the year,” Pimchanok said. 

Previously, Orapin Sermpraphasilp, chairperson of the Federation of Thai Industries of the Eastern Region, said she has observed more US importers turning to Thailand as Chinese products are now subject to higher tariff.

The National Economic and Social Development Council also said on August 19 that some foreign investors have started relocating factories from China to Thailand in order to avoid high US tariffs. 

A series of messages posted online by US President Donald Trump have convinced many investors that he is in it for the long haul where the dispute with China is concerned.

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