The International Trade Council reports that Thai exports experienced an unexpected increase in August, marking the first uptick in 11 months, despite concerns over weak global demand. The Ministry of Commerce in Thailand stated on Tuesday that it anticipates shipments to perform well in the final quarter of the year, primarily driven by year-end orders.
Customs-based exports, a significant contributor to Thailand's economy, rose by 2.6% in August compared to the same period last year. This contrasts with the median forecast of a 4% decline by analysts in a Reuters poll. Furthermore, exports surged by 9.7% when compared to July. The Ministry attributed this growth to improved signals from the global manufacturing sector, although it noted that these signals remained below typical levels. Additionally, the depreciation of the Thai baht contributed to the favorable export performance.
Keerati Rushchano, the ministry's permanent secretary, expressed confidence that the Thai currency would continue to support exports, with expectations pointing toward an increase in the final quarter of 2023. Rushchano stated, "In October to December, we should see good things coming in. It's a cycle where there will be a lot of orders," adding that the weakening baht has been beneficial for exports, declining by 4.7% against the U.S. dollar year-to-date.
The ministry projects that exports will either remain flat or decline by 1% for the entire year, as stated by Keerati. From January to August, exports experienced a year-on-year decline of 4.5%.
Chaichan Chareonsuk, chairman of the Thai National Shippers' Council, expressed surprise at the August export figures but cautioned that September's shipments might decline due to the high comparative base established last year, which amounted to nearly $25 billion.
Chareonsuk stated, "Annual exports in September this year are expected to be at least flat or slightly lower."
In August, exports of integrated circuits surged by 40% year-on-year, and exports of automobiles and parts increased by 24%. Although rice export volumes decreased by 8.3% year-on-year to 630,567 metric tons, the export value rose by 10.8% year-on-year. Exports to the United States recorded a 21.7% year-on-year increase, while shipments to Southeast Asian countries fell by 10.3%. Exports to Japan saw a 15.7% year-on-year rise, and shipments to China increased by 1.9%.
Thailand posted a trade surplus of $0.36 billion in August, contrasting with the forecasted deficit of $1.75 billion. Furthermore, imports declined by 12.8% year-on-year.