BANGKOK : Thailand's exports rose more than expected in July but the Southeast Asian country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak to date and movement restrictions are likely to impact shipments in August and September, the commerce minister said on Monday.
Exports, a key driver of Thailand's growth, increased 20.27per cent in July from year earlier as global demand improved, beating a forecast for a 19.7per cent in a Reuters poll, and against June's 43.8per cent year-on-year rise.
Exports are a rare bright spot in Thailand as it struggles with a surge in infections, prompting movement curbs https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/thailand-extends-stricter-covid-19-measures-until-end-august-2021-08-01 in areas which account for about 80per cent of gross domestic product (GDP https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL4N2PL05N).
"The lockdown measures may have impacted the manufacturing sector as we've seen some closures of fruit factories for exports," commerce minister Jurin Laksanawisit told a news conference.
The outbreak has increasingly affected factories factories and worsened https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL4N2OV0R3 a labour shortage, threatening exports at a time of stronger global demand and a weaker baht.
On Monday, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) called on government support for factories including clear "bubble and seal" measures and more vaccines.
"The industrial sector is the only engine to GDP and exports and it wants the outbreaks at factories to be contained," FTI Chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree told a separate briefing.
Industrial goods account for about 80per cent of exports which in July were led by stronger shipments of vehicle https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/thailands-booming-autos-exports-help-plug-gaping-tourism-hole-2021-06-29 and auto parts as well as computers and components.
Demand from key markets was higher in July, with exports to the United States up 22per cent year-on-year, to China up 41per cent, to Japan up 23per cent and to the European Union up 21per cent.
Imports in July jumped 45.9per cent from a year earlier, beating a forecast 43per cent rise, resulting in a trade surplus of US$183 million for the month.
In the January-July period, exports rose 16.2per cent from a year earlier, while imports increased 28.7per cent, resulting in a trade surplus of US$2.6 billion.
(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Ed Davies and James Pearson)