In August 2021, the COVID-19 outbreak became worse as the highly contagious Delta variant spread across several Asian countries, affecting economic activity and manufacturing sectors, and forcing a slowdown in export growth. This resulted in an 8.93% increase in Thailand’s exports in August, down from 20.30% in July. However, excluding oil-related products, gold and arms, Thai exports surged by 19.43% in August 2021, reflecting continued strong global market demand.
The economic activity in Thailand’s key trading partners was under pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a slowdown in Thai exports to them in August 2021. Exports to the US increased by 16.20% from 22.20% in July. Exports to CLMV countries contracted by 0.03% after a sharp drop of -17.2% in exports to Vietnam. However, exports to 27 European countries continued to grow at a rate of 16.1%, while exports to China surged by 32.3% despite the lockdown measures taken by some Chinese cities. A breakdown by products shows that the exports of products related to work-from-home, and infection and epidemic control and prevention maintained steady growth, while exports of some agricultural and agro-industrial products were affected by the outbreaks of infections in factory clusters. Nevertheless, the exports of rice rose by 25.4%, driven by higher output and a weaker Thai Baht, bringing down rice prices to a level more competitive with Vietnam and India. Exports of luxury goods such as gems and jewelry (excluding gold) also continued to perform well.
KResearch expects Thailand’s exports to grow by 12.4% in 2021. For the rest of year, despite the risk of the COVID-19 outbreak in factory clusters, exports will remain the key driver of the economy, and demand for Thai products will be boosted by government aid measures and solid recovery in the economies of major trading partners. Thai exports for the remaining four months of 2021 tend to grow at a high level, but may slow slightly from the first eight months, due to the low base of last year and the fact that pent-up demand has eased.
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