BANGKOK, March 21 (Reuters) - Thailand’s customs-cleared exports unexpectedly rose in February, after contracting for three consecutive months, due to one-time shipment of arms and weapons, the commerce ministry said on Thursday.
Exports in February rose 5.91 percent from a year earlier, compared with a Reuters poll prediction of a 1 percent drop in shipments, a key driver of Thai growth.
In January, shipments contracted 5.65 percent from a year earlier.
The gain in February was because of shipments of arms and weapons after military drills, otherwise exports would have dropped 3.4 percent, a commerce ministry official told a briefing.
Exports of cars and car parts fell 7.9 percent in February from a year earlier, while computers and parts slumped 14.1 percent.
In February, imports fell 10.03 percent from a year earlier, after surprisingly jumping 13.99 percent in January. The poll forecast was for a 3.35 percent increase in February.
For February, there was a trade surplus of $4.03 billion, compared with a forecast of $0.14 billion surplus, and January’s deficit of $4.03 billion.
The ministry has forecast an export growth of 8 percent for this year after a 6.7 percent increase in 2018. ($1 = 31.65 baht) (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon Writing by Orathai Sriring Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)