BANGKOK : Thailand's exports rose less than expected in August as coronavirus restrictions affected manufacturing and logistics, the commerce minister said on Friday, even though a weaker baht provided a boost.
The curbs were imposed in July and August to contain the Southeast Asian nation's worst coronavirus outbreak to date. But they have been relaxed https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/thailand-allow-local-flights-resume-covid-risk-areas-2021-08-29 from this month as the outbreak eases.
Exports, a key driver of Thailand's growth, rose 8.93per cent in August from a year earlier, missing a forecast for a rise of 13.5per cent in a Reuters poll, and against July's 20.27per cent increase.
"The smaller growth was due to the lockdown measures which affected production and logistics as some factories were closed," Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit told a news conference.
"That may also affect exports in September," he added.
However, exports are likely to pose double-digit growth in 2021, supported by improved global demand and the weakening of the baht currency, Jurin said. The baht has depreciated about 10per cent against the dollar so far this year.
Industrial goods account for about 80per cent of exports which in August were led by stronger shipments of electronics, vehicles and auto parts.
A shortage of microchips may have some impact on shipments in the fourth quarter of 2021 but the situation should improve later, Jurin said.
In August, imports jumped 47.92per cent from a year earlier, led by stronger imports of raw materials and capital goods, which Jurin saw as "a good sign" for future exports because imported goods will be reprocessed and shipped out again.
Thailand posted a trade deficit of US$1.22 billion in August.
In the January-August period, exports rose 15.25per cent from a year earlier, while imports increased 30.97per cent, resulting in a trade surplus of US$1.41 billion.
(Reporting by Orathai Sriring and Kitiphong Thaichareon,; Editing by Ed Davies)