BANGKOK – Thailand’s Commerce Ministry projects the country’s exports to rebound in the second half with a growth of 7-9 per cent following recovery of the global economy.
In the first quarter, export figures were not good, with exports in March dropping 3.12 per cent year-on-year to US$19.94 billion and overall shipments in the first quarter contracting one per cent to US$56.21 billion.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s imports in March dropped 14.19 per cent to US$18.48 billion with imports in the first quarter of the year shrinking 15.41 per cent to US$55.5 billion.
As a result, Thailand posted a trade surplus of US$1.45 billion in March and US$706 million in the first quarter of the year.
The kingdom’s shipments should show stronger signs of recovery in the second quarter and second half of the year with the global economic recovery and weakening of the baht being major positive factors to promote trade growth, said Srirat Rastapana, the ministry’s permanent secretary.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has adjusted its forecast for this year’s global economic growth to 3.6 per cent from 3.0 per cent last year.
The positives will offset some concerns over political uncertainty, Srirat said.
The export recovery is expected to start in the second quarter with the ministry projecting exports in the quarter to expand about 4-4.5 per cent year-on-year to between US$58.6 billion to US$58.9 billion.
Exports in the second half will increase by 7-9 per cent to between US$123.5 billion to US$125.8 billion.
With the positive outlook going forward, the ministry is confident that annualised exports this year will grow by 5 per cent as targeted.
Had there been no political turbulence, export shipments should have expanded by 10 per cent this year.
Srirat said to promote more economic growth for the kingdom, the ministry will soon draw a strategic plan to promote both exports and domestic spending.
The Thai baht depreciated 6.8 per cent in the first quarter and has been weakening compared with most Asian currencies except the Indonesia rupiah, which weakened by 13.51 per cent for the period, he said.
The baht averaged at Bt32.66 against the greenback during January to March this year.
However, apart from domestic politics, Thailand has experienced other challenges — a drought affecting farm output, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the plan by the US to cut the Generalised System of Preferences on Thai products as well as rising competitiveness in world markets.