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.
Trade Balance Thailand-Rest of the World 1991-2013
Total exports from Thailand by value in 2013 amount to 228.5 billion U.S. Dollars.
Below are listed the most important export products by value in U.S Dollar for 2013.
Some comments :
Car exports, including accessories and parts, motorcycles, has become a main industry in Thailand. If I recall well the country is at present the 10th car manufacturer in the world.
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.
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 limeted : fish (tuna, shrimp), tapioca and rice are most prominent. Rice exports have gone down as of late, because of goverment policies.
Exported Products from Thailand
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
Thailand imported goods valued at 250.7 billion U.S. Dollars in 2013.
Imported goods into Thailand :
The major imported good by value, fuelling the Thai economy, is crude oil.
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 you 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).
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 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.
Trade balance between Thailand and its most relevant trading partners.
The trade deficit in 2013 was 22.7 billion U.S. Dollar.
Thailand has the most prominent trade deficit with Japan, and substantial trade deficits with China and All of Europe. On top of a lot of imports from Japan, there is a substantial Thai-Japanese industry, exported to the world from Thailand.
Thailand has a trade surplus with the ASEAN countries. The picture is not completely fitting, but one could say that the country imports relatively more from more developed countries, and exports relatively more to less developed neighboring countries.
Thailand may run a trade deficit most of the time. But do not forget a big chunk of money comes in through tourism. Revenue from tourism in 2012 (more in 2013), was 34 billion U.S. Dollars.
Sources : Ministry of Commerce. Use this deep link to get there . If you want to go deeper into this material, you should follow the link at : MENUCOM(ENG). Please do not blame us, if this info becomes invalid.