Thai exports are maintaining healthy growth momentum, recording the fastest expansion in 11 years in May, driven by strong global demand and economic recovery in trading partners as the government continues aggressive promotion.
The Commerce Ministry reported on Thursday customs-cleared exports rose for a third month, increasing by 41.6% from May last year to US$23.1 billion (736.1 billion baht), after gains of 13.1% and 8.47% in April and March, respectively, and a 2.59% contraction in February.
Outbound shipments fetched more than $20 billion for the fourth consecutive month and recorded the highest growth rate in 11 years since June 2010.
Exports excluding gold, oil-related products and weaponry continued to soar by 45.9% in May after a 25.7% expansion in April and a 12% rise in March. The expansion was partly attributed to the ministry’s export promotion plans this year, in addition to the robust global economic recovery, especially in the manufacturing sector, said Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit.
Imports also increased by 63.5% in May to $22.2 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $796 million.
In the first five months of 2021, exports expanded by 10.8% from the same period last year to $109 billion, while imports rose by 21.5% to $107 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $1.49 billion.
Products recording strong growth in May included agricultural and food products such as cassava products, rubber, vegetables and fruit, fresh, chilled and frozen chicken, palm oil, beverages, pet food and food seasonings.
Other gainers comprised of products related to working at home and home appliances such as computers, furniture and parts, air conditioners, microwave ovens, refrigerators and freezers, washing machines and parts, radio and TV receivers and parts, and Covid-19 related products such as rubber gloves and medical equipment.
Products related to the manufacturing sector such as steel and products, chemicals, plastic resins, electronic integrated circuits, and machinery and parts reported healthy growth in May. Durable and luxury goods such as automobiles and parts, and gems and jewellery (excluding gold) also recorded gains.
Agricultural and agro-industrial product exports rose for the sixth consecutive month with growth of 14.3% year-on-year in May to $4.22 billion led by rubber (99.2%), fresh, chilled, frozen, canned and processed vegetables and fruit (31.9%), food seasonings (25.1%), pet food (24.0%), fresh, chilled, frozen and processed chicken (13.9%) and cassava products (10.7%).
Industrial product exports increased for the third consecutive month, up 48% to $17.9 billion in May. Products expanding favourably included automobiles, equipment and parts (170%), gems and jewellery (excluding gold) (+113%), air conditioners and parts (86.3%), oil-related products (75.8%), furniture and parts (54.0%), machinery and parts (52.9%), and computers, equipment and parts (44.5%).
“We expect to see a robust recovery of Thai exports in the next phase as industrial product exports have grown steadily for five consecutive months; oil-related product shipments are growing thanks to an increase in export prices and foreign demand after many countries eased their lockdown measures; and Covid-19 vaccinations are enhancing consumer confidence,” Mr Jurin said.
He said the ministry pledges to drive export growth to outpace the 4% projection made at the end of last year.
Chaichan Chareonsuk, president of the Thai National Shippers’ Council, said given the results, the council is upbeat export growth could exceed 10%.