Thai export growth misses forecast in Dec, small rise seen in 2024 By Reuters

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© Reuters. A view of the port of Bangkok, Thailand May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s exports rose for a fifth straight month in December but at a slower pace and less than analysts’ forecasts, and the commerce ministry said on Friday that it expected small export growth in 2024 after a slight drop last year.

Customs-based exports rose 4.7% in December from a year earlier, compared with a forecast for a 6.0% year-on-year increase in a Reuters poll, and following November’s 4.9% rise.

December exports, a key driver of Thailand’s economy, dropped 2.9% from the previous month.

“Geopolitical problems that affect global trade and pose risks to the global supply chain remain a significant factor that need monitoring as they could impact future exports,” the ministry said.

China’s economic slowdown will also have a big impact on Thai exports this year, Keerati Rushchano, the ministry’s permanent secretary, told a briefing.

China was Thailand’s second-largest export market in 2023 with a 12% market share, after the United States’ 17.2% share.

As exports dropped 1% last year, Keerati said the ministry’s 2024 working target for export growth of 1% to 2% “is challenging”.

In December, shipments of cars and car parts as well as electronics increased but exports of chemicals dropped.

Rice export volumes increased 4.1% in December from a year earlier, with the value up 27%. Rice shipments rose 13.7% to 8.76 million metric tons in 2023.

Rice exports saw high demand due to concerns over food security, Keerati said.

In December, shipments to the United States rose 0.3% from a year earlier and those to Japan dropped 3.7%, while exports to China increased 2%.

December imports fell 3.1% year-on-year, creating a trade surplus of $0.97 billion.

Full-year 2023 imports dropped 3.8% annually while the country’s trade deficit stood at $5.2 billion.

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