KResearch holds an optimistic view toward Thailand's electronics exports that will likely return to growth in 2017 for the first time in two years. The expected export value could be range between USD34.67-35.37 billion, equal to 7.2-9.4 percent growth, p.a. (median at 8.3 percent), versus a somber 0.8-percent contraction recorded in 2016. That high level of growth will benefit our outward trade, since electronics are a major export for us, especially hard disk drives (HDDs), integrated circuits (ICs) and smartphones that account for 56 percent of our electronics export value.
Given cyclical changes in computing device usage globally based on device useful life, Thailand's HDD exports are likely to improve considerably. Meanwhile, our IC products should also capitalize on wider use of smart tools in a number of industries, e.g., automobiles, electrical appliances and industrial machinery. As for smartphones, a Japanese producer relocated production from China and Japan to facilities in Thailand during 2015-2016, with production starting in 4Q16. As a result, our smartphone exports have registered outstanding growth.
However, KResearch deems that our HDD exports are transitory only, and smartphone exports may begin to face limitations soon, given the heightened competition in global markets. In 2018, Thailand's electronics exports may experience lesser growth than during 2017, perhaps reaching a total value of USD36.07-36.80 billion, which as such would thus result in growth of 3.0-5.1 percent YoY.