April 24, 2017 / 4:29 AM / 7 months ago

Thai March exports surge 9.2 pct y/y, far above forecast

    * 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 (Reuters) - 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
second-largest economy.
    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)

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