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[ 2014-11-27 ]

Thailands Exports Surge in October

BANGKOK—-Thailand’s exports in October showed the strongest growth in almost two years, giving much-needed support to the ruling military in its year-end push to boost the economy.

The military, which seized power in May, has struggled to jump-start an economy rocked by monthslong political turmoil. Exports—contributing about 70% of the country’s growth annually—have contracted, while other engines, such as private investment and consumption, have been recovering only slowly.

Months of slumping overseas shipment and weak recovery prompted the country’s economic planning agency last week to cut its growth forecast to 1% for this year.

But the trade data released Wednesday provided positive feedback for the military-government.

Exports rose 3.97% year-over-year to $20.16 billion, beating market expectation, as overseas shipment of industrial items, including cars and computers parts, reversed to growth.

Shipments to the U.S. was at a record high, growing 6.4%, but those to China remained negative.

“There are strong signs that Thai exports are continuing to recover,” Commerce Minister Gen. Chatchai Sarikalya told reporters. “We are confident that exports will not contract in the last quarter this year.”

With that assumption, exports are expected to grow between 0% to 1% this year, Gen. Chatchai said. From January to October, exports contracted 0.36%.

Exports of vehicles and auto parts grew 10.8% in October from a year earlier, the ministry reported.

Overseas rice sales increased 34.7%, while exports of frozen seafood products recovered after the output had been affected by a deadly shrimp disease.

Rubber shipment, however, slumped 40% due to oversupply of the commodity and lackluster global demand. The drop in rubber prices has prompted the government to aid farmers, whose falling income could hamper rural spending.

Thailand is catching up with the export pick up in emerging markets in Asia, said economist Rahul Bajoria at Barclays. But the weak nature of the economic recovery as a whole still poses risk to entire-year growth.

Imports fell 4.88% in the month to $21.77 billion after unexpectedly jumping for the first time this year to 14.42% in September.

The fall was seen mostly in volatile items, but imports of raw materials, capital goods and consumer products rose. This supports the slight improvement in the third quarter of domestic demand and investment.

Wall Street Journal

Write to Warangkana Chomchuen at