Thai exports in February 2010 showed double digit growth for fourth consecutive month at a rate of 23.1 percent YoY, decelerating from 30.8 percent in January 2010. Meanwhile, the export value rose to USD14.404 billion, against USD13.723 billion in January. This relatively high export growth YoY is due to many complementary factors, such as a low base effect from last year, the result of FTA pacts, orders to achieve higher stockpiles at many businesses to support the economic recovery and attempts to avoid upward trends in raw material prices.
February imports grew around 71.2 percent YoY, accelerating over the 44.8- percent growth of January, and reaching the highest growth since compilation of statistical records on imports began in 1991. The February import value was USD13.964 billion, rising over the USD13.208 billion in January. This increasing value reflects a recovery in domestic consumption, as well as trade liberalization and accelerating imports of raw materials on the expectation of higher prices and demand later on. The Thai trade surplus was USD440 million in February, decreasing from the USD516 million in January.
We expected the Thai exports will be boosted by many positive factors, such as higher-than-expected export growth in 2M10, the global economic recovery and trade expansion boosted by FTA pacts between Thailand and other economies such as ASEAN, China, India, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, Thai exports will likely grow continuously overall although the appreciating Baht may affect some products, inventory replenishment orders by businesses will likely decelerate in due course, and political tensions may also affect Thai importers somewhat.
For the overall export outlook in 2010, they should grow over what has been forecasted. KASIKORN RESEARCH CENTER (KResearch) expects that if Thai exports show continuous recovery during the first-two months of 2010, overall growth in 2010 will likely reach 17.0-24.0 percent. Meanwhile, imports will likely grow 29.0-36.0 percent, against the former export and import growth forecasts of 10.0-14.0 percent and 20.0-25.0 percent, respectively. Moreover, the trade balance is expected to be in surplus at USD6.0-8.6 billion, decreasing from the surplus of USD18.7 billion in 2009.