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Kenanga Research & Investment

Author: kiasutrader   |   Latest post: Thu, 18 Jul 2019, 9:53 AM

 

Thailand External Trade - Exports plunge to a 34-month low, trade balance turns positive

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OVERVIEW

● May’s exports worsened, charting a contraction of 5.8% YoY (Apr: -2.6%), widest in 34 months and below house estimate of -5.1% and Reuters’s consensus of -3.6%. On a MoM basis, it rebounded sharply by 13.3% (Apr: -13.5%), after declining for the past two months. The hampered export performance was driven by softer demand from the regional peers and the EU, particularly for principle manufacturing goods, as well as mineral and fuel.

● By product, the moderation in exports was broad-based, led by further decline in manufacturing and mineral and fuel shipments. Exports of principle manufacturing goods, mainly electronics and cars and parts, marked a deeper drop of 5.8% YoY (Apr: -4.2%), subsequently widening its drag to the overall export growth to 4.6 percentage points (ppt). Mineral and fuel exports experienced a significant fall of 20.9% (Apr: +0.8%), weighing down on overall export growth by 1.0 ppt, reflecting the steeper decline in the average Brent crude oil price in May (-7.5%; Apr: -1.0%), owing to the exacerbated geopolitical tension arising from the US-China trade dispute and the US-Iran conflict.

● By destination, excluding the US, demand for Thailand’s exports softened across the board. The slowdown was led by the EA-8 (i.e. ASEAN-5, HK, KR, TW) (-9.8% YoY; Apr: -3.8%), followed by China (-7.2%; Apr: -5.0%) and the EU (-7.3%; Apr: -3.7%). Of note, shipments to the US bucked the overall trend, expanding by 7.8% (Apr: 4.7%), potentially signalling some diversion in trade as the US slapped higher tariffs of 25% on USD200b of Chinese goods on May 10.

● Meanwhile, imports marginally narrowed its decline to 0.6% YoY (Apr: -0.7%), outperforming Reuters’s consensus of -1.9%, underpinned by improved demand for fuel lubricants (22.8%; Apr: -12.8%), offsetting declines in imports of other goods. As exports expanded more than imports on a MoM basis, the trade balance returned to record a surplus of USD0.2b from a deficit of USD1.5b in April.

● Overall, we retain our export growth forecast of 1.5-2.5% for this year (2018: 6.7%), on account of the ongoing tech downcycle and economic slowdown in key export markets, including China and the EU. Risks are tilted to the downside hinging upon the outcome of the Trump-Xi meeting this week at the G-20 summit, which will provide greater clarity on whether or not the US will go through with enacting 25% tariff on the remaining USD300b of Chinese goods.

Source: Kenanga Research - 24 Jun 2019

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