The Commerce Ministry reported on Wednesday that customs-cleared exports fetched $19.15 billion in December, down by 1.28% 

For December, outbound shipments fell for the fifth straight month, but improved from a 7.39% plunge in November. Exports fell by 4.5% in October, 1.4% in September and 4% in August, respectively.

The Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO) has indicated that the gross value of Thai exports last year was 246.244 billion U.S. dollars, showing a 2.65 percent decline from the previous year, due to the U.S.-China trade war and the strong Thai baht.

Apart from the global slowdown, we also have to deal with the strong baht which is too much to bear for Thai exports. But we are doing better than South Korea.

PIMCHANOK VONKORPON, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE TRADE POLICY AND STRATEGY OFFICE

Exports to China decreased 3.8% to $29.1 billion. Companies are believed to be buying less parts for their Chinese production hubs, with shipments of rubber products down 15% and computers and parts down 9% according to a Nikkei report.

U.S. overtakes China as first destination

Thai exports to the U.S. increased 11.8% to $31.3 billion in 2019, while exports to China decreased 3.8% to $29.1 billion, as customers there looked for alternatives to Chinese-made products, making the U.S. Thailand’s biggest trade partner for the year over China.

The impact of the trade war on Thai exports has stabilised and begun to decline in recent months, owing to substitution effects both in the United States and China, and supply chain adjustments.

Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Trade Policy and Strategy Office

Another highlight in December was that exports to two major trading partners, the US and China, recorded positive growth at 15.6 and 7.3% respectively. Exports to Taiwan and the Middle East also  strengthened, increasing by 16.2% and 11.4% respectively, Ms Pimchanok said. 

Looking forward, the Thai government expects trade to pick up thanks to the “phase one” trade deal signed by the U.S. and China. “We can expect a 1.5% to 2% increase in exports in 2020,” said Pimchanok Vonkorpon, director-general of the Commerce Ministry’s Trade Policy and Strategy Office.

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