Thailand : Trade Balance, Exports and Imports
Historically, maybe a bit surprising for some, Thailand has a negative trade balance with the rest of the world, most of the time. If a positive trade balance is present, it remains relatively small (see period between 2001-2010)
Of course, if not for crude oil imports, the trade balance would be positive all the time. This applies to a lot of other countries as well.
Notice the striking trade deficits in the 1995-2000 period. This is around the 1997 Asian economic crisis, which started off in Thailand. I remember reading at the time preceding the crisis, that the country was importing a lot of 'capital goods', which was reportedly a good thing. Obviously too much of a good thing, turned out to be bad at the time.
In 2014, there was a tiny trade deficit recorded of about 380 million U.S. Dollar . In 2015, the trade balance was positive by about 11.72 billion U.S. Dollar, which can be explained kind of completely by the drop in value of imported crude oil and oil products.
For those interested : data for 2013 and 2014
Trade Balance Thailand-Rest of the World 1991-2015
Total exports from Thailand by value in 2014 amounted to 214.38 billion U.S. Dollars. this was 5.78% lower than exports in 2014 at 227.57 billion U.S. Dollars
Below are listed the most important export products by value in U.S Dollar for 2014.
Some comments :
Car exports, including accessories and parts, motorcycles, have become a main export products from Thailand. The country was listed as 12th in the list of countries with the highest car (including commercial vehicles) production in 2014.
Computer related products (automatic data processing, electronic integrated circuits), as well as chemical products (when including ethylene and propylene) are major export products.
Rubber and rubber products feature large, Thailand being the prime rubber producer in the world. Export value for 2015 was lower than before, due to persistently low international rubber prices.
Compared to industrial manufactured goods, exports of food products (while a big chunk of the population is still working in the food industry) are more limited in value : fish (tuna, shrimp), tapioca and rice are most prominent.
Exported Products from Thailand, 2015
Asean countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei) take the largest chunk out of Thai exports. In a second group : China, U.S.A., all of Europe, and Japan, are of almost equal importance).
Export destination of Thai products, 2015
Thailand imported goods valued at 202.65 billion U.S. Dollars in 2015. This was substantially lower than in 2014, when imports stood at 227.75 billion U.S. Dollars, a decrease of 11.02%.
Imported goods into Thailand :
A major imported good by value, fuelling the Thai economy, is crude oil. However, import value of crude oil decreased from 39.35 (2013) to 33.22 billion U.S. Dollar in 2014, due to lower oil prices. In 2015 the value of crude oil imported dropped significantly to 'only' 19.52 billion U.S. Dollar.
Gold and silver interestingly, are one of the most important items. All the gold shops you see around Bangkok and Thailand, have to be provided with their gold, since Thailand has only a very limited own production.
Household appliances, despite all the imported goods one sees on sale in the department stores, are a relatively minor post. It is dwarfed by all the industrial goods such as machinery, iron, steel, chemicals, computers, etc.
Also relevant is the minor contribution of medicines (less than 3 billion U.S. Dollar). This despite the fact that there are quite a few of top medical facilities and a very prominent medical tourism industry.
It reflects the fact that health expenditure in Thailand overall is still very low, at about 3.9 % of GDP (fact and figures, reported by Bangkok Post, Januari 2014).
Value of imported Goods into Thailand, 2015.
The U.S.A. (when compared to its importance as an export market for Thai goods), is of relatively less importance as an exporter to Thailand.
For both imports and exports, China has become an utterly important trading partner for Thailand. Despite overall decrease in value of imported goods, the value of imports from China has increased by 6.67 % in 2015 (compared with 2014). Value of imported goods decreased a lot for imports from the oil exporting countries. Interestingly, Switzerland managed to increase its exports to Thailand by 11.08% in 2015. Also France managed to increase its exports to Thailand in 2015.
Japan, the ASEAN countries, China, and all of Europe, provide the bulk of imported goods into Thailand. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia (despite a long lasting diplomatic row), Qatar, apparently provide most of the imported crude oil.
The trade deficit in 2013 was 22.7 billion U.S. Dollar. In 2014 just a deficit of 380 million U.S. Dollar. Then, in 2015 we got a positive trade balance of 11.72 billion U.S. Dollar.
Thailand has substantial trade deficits with both China and Japan. There is also a substantial Thai-Japanese industry, exporting to the world from Thailand.
Thailand has a substantial trade surplus with the ASEAN countries and with the U.S.A. Trade with Europe is well balanced in 2015 (as before).
Thailand may run a trade deficit most of the time, though not in 2015. But let's not forget that a big chunk of money comes in through tourism. Revenue from tourism in 2012 (more in 2014), was 34 billion U.S. Dollars. Revenue in 2015 reached 21.4 billion U.S Dollar in the first half of the year, so it will easily have surpassed 40 billion U.S. Dollar for the whole year (results not yet available at moment of this report).
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