* March exports +9.2 pct y/y vs +1.90 pct in Reuters poll
* March imports +19.3 pct y/y vs +9.55 pct seen in poll
* March trade surplus $1.62 bln vs $1.72 bln surplus in poll
* Q1 exports +4.9 pct y/y, imports +14.8 pct y/y
BANGKOK, April 24 Thailand's customs-cleared
exports surged well above expectations in March, after declining
in the previous month, helped by strong demand for rubber and
computers, in an encouraging sign for the export-dependent
economy still trying to gain a firmer footing.
Exports jumped 9.2 percent in March from a year earlier
after February's 2.8 percent drop, commerce ministry data showed
on Monday. A Reuters poll expected an annual rise of 1.90
percent in March.
Shipments are worth about two-thirds of Southeast Asia's
A global economic recovery and higher oil prices boosted
Thai exports in March, said Pimchanok Vonkhorporn of the
Commerce Ministry at a briefing.
"Demand from China and India was a record," she said.
The commerce ministry aims for export growth of 5 percent
this year after a rise of 0.45 percent in 2016, the first annual
growth increase in four years.
Imports in March also beat expectations with a 19.3 percent
surge from a year earlier, compared with the forecast of a 9.55
percent increase and February's 20.4 percent jump.
The March trade numbers produced a trade surplus of $1.62
billion, compared with a poll forecast of $1.72 billion and
February's $1.61 billion surplus.
Many of the materials Thailand imports are assembled into
completed goods and shipped out again.
(Percentage change from a year earlier, in dollar terms;
figures may not add up exactly due to rounding):
Mar Feb Jan Dec
Exports (pct y/y) 9.2 -2.8 8.8 6.2
($bln) 20.89 18.47 17.10 18.17
Imports (pct y/y) 19.3 20.4 5.17 10.3
($bln) 19.27 16.86 16.27 17.23
Trade balance ($bln) 1.62 1.61 0.83 0.94
($1 = 34.35 baht)
(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai
Sriring; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)