Thailand's January exports exhibited steady improvements, growing 16.09 percent YoY, to USD18.26 billion, according to a report by the Ministry of Commerce. Despite a low 2012 base, export value in USD had increased 0.93 percent MoM, reflecting a gradual rebound in the Thai export sector. Taking into consideration our export markets at this time, it was found that overall purchase orders improved, particularly from China – which saw an economic recovery in late 2012, our exports to ASEAN are improving, while those to the US and Japan are fairly satisfactory, too.
Meanwhile, imports in January totaled USD23.75 billion, rising 40.87 percent YoY and 16.06 percent MoM, led by gold, capital goods/machinery and intermediate components, corresponding with the upward trend in global gold prices, plus recent Baht appreciation. As a result, Thailand logged a record trade deficit at USD5.48 billion. However, such a high deficit is not a cause of concern, since, with an exception of gold, businesses are capitalizing on the strengthened Baht to restock materials for future manufacture.
As for 2013, KResearch maintains that the export trend should continue to improve on a number of factors, e.g., improving economic conditions globally, including in our major trade partner countries and emerging ASEAN markets. We expect that Thai exports may grow 10.5 percent, or in a range of 8.0-13.0 percent in 2013. However, close attention should be paid to forex Baht movements, which would not only cause further havoc to products with pricing disadvantage, but also hurt the competitiveness of some of our industrial exports, though they may benefit from lower costs of imported intermediate components, but may lose their international market shares to competitors because of uncompetitive export pricing.