The COVID-19 pandemic continues to persist worldwide, including in Thailand. In spite of this, hopes for COVID-19 vaccines, less stringent lockdown measures than the previous round of the pandemic and economic stimulus measures introduced by many countries supported Thai exports in December 2020 to grow, for the first time in eight months, by 4.71%, against the contraction of 3.65% reported in November 2020. Shipment of agricultural commodities and agro-processing products resumed growth of 2.1%YoY, bettering the shrinkage of 2.4% YoY recorded in November 2020. Industrial product exports also expanded again by 6.7% YoY, versus the 2.9% YoY contraction reported for November 2020.
Although some countries, especially those in Europe, began to re-impose lockdown measures at the year-end due the rising number of COVID-19 cases in December 2020, the Thai export sector has not been affected. Thai shipments to major markets continued to grow from the previous months
Thai exports in 2021 will likely experience a number of challenges ahead, including global economic recovery that still faces risk from the COVID-19 pandemic over the near term, shortage of shipping containers and rising ocean freight rates that will likely pressure Thai exports during the first quarter of 2021. In addition, the Baht issue will become more complex after Thailand has been added to the Monitoring List of the US Department of Treasury for suspected currency manipulation. The persistent appreciation and volatility of the Baht will inevitably hurt Thai exports, going forward. Given this, KResearch expects that Thai exports may grow 3.0% in 2021.
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