Thailand's outward trade posted steady growth over-month in January 2021 as the global economy began to recover. Excluding gold, Thai exports increased 6.3%, suggesting stronger demand for Thai products abroad, in particular automotive accessories, which surged 18.8%YoY. Shipments of work-from-home products and electrical appliances recorded steady growth, especially television sets and related components, which grew for the seventh consecutive months in line with changing consumer behavior.
Shipments to major markets performed well because the COVID-19 pandemic began to subside in those markets, with the exception of the European Union (EU). Thai exports to the US in January grew 12.4%YoY, while exports to Japan and China increased 9.9% and 7.4% respectively. Shipments to CLMV countries resumed growth for the first time in 10 months at 3.8%YoY. Exports to Vietnam grew at the fastest rate of 20.1%YoY.
However, Thailand's January export growth was lower than those of other countries in the region and the growth projected by markets, pressured partly by a shortage of shipping containers and higher ocean freight rates. Concurrently, Thailand's outward trade was inhibited by the strong Baht. The Thai currency is projected to move within a range of THB29-29.25/USD at the year-end. The expected strengthening and volatility in the Baht will inevitably hurt Thai exports. KResearch, therefore, projects that 2021 Thai exports will grow at 3.0%.
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