Thai exports in May 2021 reached an 11-year high with growth of 41.59 percent YoY. Excluding oil-related products, gold, weaponry and military supplies, May's overall exports grew 45.87 percent YoY. For the first five months of 2021, exports rose 10.78 percent YoY. However, export growth during this period reached 17.13 percent upon exclusion of oil-related products, gold, weaponry and military supplies – consistent with the global economic recovery. Key products that helped to boost exports include automobiles and auto parts, computers and components, refined oil, rubber products and plastic pellets. Classified by export destinations, exports have grown in almost every market.
KResearch projects that Thai exports for 2021 will grow 9.0 percent YoY in line with the global economic recovery. This figure is indicative of an expected slowdown in export growth over the remainder of the year. However, products under the categories of electronic equipment, electrical appliances, rubber products, as well as fruits and vegetables, are expected to have strong performance thanks to surging demand. Meanwhile, shipments of oil-related products such as plastic pellets, chemicals and refined oil should still enjoy moderate growth, owing to price levels that tend to remain high. The growth of Thai exports in 2H21 is forecast to return to normalcy with slowdown in pent-up demand and reduced low-base effect of the previous year. Nevertheless, the recurring issue of container shortages that has lingered since late last year may take a while longer to be resolved.
That said, close attention should be paid to certain risk factors, particularly the uncertainties surrounding the current COVID-19 outbreak which may put pressure on Thai exports for the foreseeable future. Many countries including the United States, Germany and Russia are currently facing a surge in the number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases. Since this variant is more contagious than other COVID-19 variants, the aforementioned countries risk further viral resurgence as shown in the case of the United Kingdom, where the Delta variant has already risen to become the dominant strain in the country. Additionally, there are concerns over potential Delta Plus and Gamma variant outbreaks, as it is uncertain whether any of the available COVID-19 vaccines could provide sufficient protection against the Gamma variant. If the global pandemic worsens yet again, Thai exports may suffer setbacks in the forthcoming period.