Thailand's merchandise exports reached USD22.363 billion for March 2018, representing a fresh record high. As a result, our 1Q18 shipments hit a 7-year high of 11.3 percent YoY. Despite a high 2017 base, the value of March exports was driven by steady economic growth seen in our trade partners, favorable performance in oil-related shipments, thanks to rising global crude oil prices and accelerated electronics imports by China and the US before the US enforces import tariffs on Chinese-made products.
Meanwhile, KResearch is of the view that there should be positive outcome from trade negotiations between the US and China, thus helping ease volatility in global trade and in turn benefiting Thai exports during the remainder of 2018. In addition, a robust global economic recovery and the fact that the average Dubai crude oil price may climb over our current assessment of USD55/barrel will likely support Thai shipments to grow higher than 4.5 percent. That figure may even increase to our upper projection band of 7.0 percent (our forecast band is 2.0-7.0 percent) if there is fruitful outcome from US-China trade talks during US Treasury Secretary's visit to China.