BANGKOK : Thai exports shrank for a 10th consecutive month in July, and by a far bigger rate than expected, as global demand remains sluggish, and the commerce ministry said on Friday it would be difficult to meet its full-year export growth target.
Customs-based exports, a key driver of Thailand’s economy, contracted 6.2 per cent in July from a year earlier, compared with analysts’ average estimated dip of 0.75 per cent in a Reuters poll. Exports had slumped 10.8 per cent from June.
“A sharp decline in global commodity prices, resulting from the conflicts in Ukraine in the preceding year, led to a significant slowdown in related export values,” the ministry said in a statement, adding China had also faced a slow recovery.
The slump in Thai exports, however, was less than that of many other countries, Keerati Rushchano, the ministry’s permanent secretary, told a press briefing.
“Despite July’s export fall, the big picture in terms of value, we are not bad,” he said, citing last year’s high base of comparison for the drop.
The July export value was $22.14 billion versus $23.6 billion in the same month in 2022.
The ministry would try to meet its export growth target of 1 per cent to 2 per cent this year, Keerati said, but noted it would be difficult.
Exports in the first seven months of 2023, which contracted 5.5 per cent year-on-year, were satisfying, he said.
“In the remaining four to five months, we will put our efforts to make the numbers not too ugly,” he added.
Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said exports would increase in the fourth quarter of 2023, owing to last year’s low base and higher car shipments.
“But if the economies of trading partners have not recovered, exports might contract 1 per cent this year,” he told the briefing.
In July, exports of computers and parts tumbled 24 per cent year-on-year, while autos exports jumped nearly 30 per cent. Rice export volumes rose 4.5 per cent on-year to 604,310 metric tones.
Exports to the United States rose 0.9 per cent on-year in July, while shipments to Southeast Asian countries fell 21.8 per cent. Exports to Japan fell 1.7 per cent and shipments to China declined 3.2 per cent.
In July, Thailand posted a trade deficit $1.98 billion, bigger than a forecast deficit of $1.3 billion, with imports sliding 11.1 per cent year-on-year.