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26 Jan 2024

Thai Economy

Thai exports contracted by 1.0 percent YoY in 2023, though the fourth quarter saw a boost from the recovery of industrial product exports (Business Brief No.4031 Full Ed.)


  • Thailand’s exports expanded by 4.7 percent YoY in December 2023, marking an improvement for the fifth consecutive month. The uptick in 4Q23 shipments was the first in five quarters. This growth was bolstered by the low base of 2022 and the recovery of industrial product exports, led by automobiles and parts which this year saw higher shipments to secondary markets such as Australia and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, agricultural exports contracted for the first time in five months, due to a decline in fruit shipments following the end of seasonal fruit deliveries. Given this, overall export value was USD 284,561.8 million in 2023, falling by 1.0 percent amid slowing economies of key trading partners, while import value reached USD 289,754.3 million, dropping by 3.8 percent. As a result, Thailand had a trade deficit for the second consecutive year, at USD 5,192.5 million (according to the Customs Department).
  • Global trade faces risk from attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea that leads to the Suez Canal, a major shipping route between Asia and Europe. Although the impact on overall global trade has not become evident thus far, there are signs of rising shipping costs such as freight and insurance charges, though they remain lower than during the pandemic when unprecedented supply chain disruptions occurred. Additionally, the shipping of goods will experience delays as container ships are being forced to avoid the route. However, if the situation persists, it could lead to a further increase in shipping costs and trading partners slowing down their imports from Thailand. Key products that Thailand exports to the European and Middle Eastern markets include automobiles, electronics and components, as well as food products such as processed seafood and rice.
  • Looking into 2024, KResearch holds the view that overall Thai exports are expected to see a gradual recovery, growing by 2.0 percent YoY thanks to the low base effect. Plus, positive factors supporting the country’s shipments are the cyclical recovery of electronic products, continued demand for food products, commodity prices that remain elevated but lower than the previous year, and popularity of eco-friendly products such as solar cells. However, Thai exports still face numerous challenges including slowing economies among key trading partners, currency volatility, unfavorable weather conditions, as well as prolonged geopolitical tensions – the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Israel-Hamas war, and the crisis in the Red Sea that could persist and escalate into a regional conflict. These all remain issues to be monitored.

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Thai Economy