Analysts See Thailand’s Exports Contraction to Continue amid Sluggish Global Demand

As data show a downward trend, and April’s export figure falling more than projected, analysts on Wednesday warned that Thailand’s export contraction could continue in the coming months, despite the commerce ministry’s estimate that shipments would pick up in the third quarter.

Exports, a crucial economic driver for Thailand, fell 7.6% in April from a year earlier, compared to -4.2% in March, and poorer than the consensus projection of a 2% YoY loss, as a result of growing economic uncertainty around the world that dampened demand. 

The value of April’s exports was $21.72 billion, a decrease from March’s one-year high of $27.65 billion.

The commerce ministry issued a statement on Tuesday stating that several Asian countries, including Thailand, have suffered sluggish exports as a result of global economic uncertainty on demand.

The decline was brought about by the highly seasonal exports of automobiles, hard drives (HDD), and gold, which were the main contributors to last month’s positive surprise, while exports of fruits rose sharply due to the recovery of the Chinese market.

Thailand posted a trade deficit of $1.47 billion in April, compared to the expected deficit of $450 million, with imports showing a 7.3% year-over-year decline.

Kiatnakin Phatra Securities said the recent data has indicated that exports from Thailand continued to be highly volatile and point toward a downward trend. Also, the dropping exports are consistent with the export contraction of regional peers.

The analysts at KKPS noted that Thailand’s export growth is expected to remain in negative territory in the coming months despite a recovery of exports to China given weak global demand, a regional manufacturing recession, and a high base. This would be a drag on the country’s economic performance regardless of the recovery of the tourism and services sectors.

The commerce ministry’s permanent secretary Keerati Rushchano said Thailand’s shipments fared better than those of other countries in Southeast Asia, and that he anticipated the exports to perform even better later in the year.

This year’s export growth target of 1%-2% was maintained by the ministry.