Thai Q3 exports slow to 3% y/y from Q2 10.6% on U.S.-China trade row

BANGKOK, NNA - Thailand's exports slowed in the third quarter of 2018 due to sluggish shipments to China and the United States, its two largest markets, according to customs data compiled by NNA.

As the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies lingers, Thai exports to the world rose just 3.0 percent from a year earlier to $63.9 billion in the July-September period, with the pace of increase decelerating from 10.6 percent in April-June.

Thai exports to China dropped 3.0 percent to $7.3 billion in Q3 after rising 15.1 percent in Q2, hit by lower demand for synthetic rubber, lumber and integrated circuits. Those to the U.S. were flat (+0.0 percent) at $7.1 billion after gaining 6.6% in the previous three months, led by a decline in electric equipment.

Shipments to Japan rose 8.6 percent to $6.0 billion, also slower than the 11.2 percent rise in April-June.

By contrast, exports to the 10-member Association of South-East Asian Nations increased 22.5 percent on year to $18.2 billion in the third quarter.

“An early sign of the (trade dispute) impact on Thailand can be seen in slower exports of parts and materials to China, which were used in goods made by China for the U.S. market,” said Mizuho Research Institute economist Hiromasa Matsuura.

Amid uncertain global growth triggered by the U.S. trade rows, Thai officials have expressed interest in Thailand joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership to benefit from free trade with its 11 members. The Trump administration has withdrawn the United States from the TPP trade pact.

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