BANGKOK : Thailand's exports rose by a more than expected 16.2per cent in February from a year earlier on improved global demand while the Russia-Ukraine war had yet to affect trade, the commerce minister said on Thursday.
That compares with a forecast for a rise of 10.2per cent in February in a Reuters poll and after January's 8per cent increase. Imports increased 16.8per cent year-on-year in February, with a trade surplus of $123 million in the month.
The effects of the war should be reflected in trade from March, which warranted close monitoring, Jurin Laksanawisit told a news conference.
While the conflict would affect logistics routes and oil prices, it was an opportunity for several countries including Thailand to enter markets that Russia and Ukraine exported to, he said.
Poj Aramwattananont, vice chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said while Thailand's trade with Russia was small, uncertainty and confusion over the conflict would further drive up the costs of transportation and capital goods which could affect export manufacturing.
In the first two months of 2022, exports, a key driver of Thai growth, rose 12.2per cent from a year earlier, already exceeding the ministry's forecast for a rise of 3per cent to 4per cent in shipments for the whole year, Jurin said.
Imports in January-February increased 18.7per cent from a year earlier, with a trade deficit of $2.4 billion over the period.
For the year, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told a news conference he expected exports to rise by 5per cent to 10per cent.
(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Davies)