Thailand : Trade Balance, Exports and Imports (half-year 2020)



Trade is very important and a major component contributing to the GDP of Thailand. The first half of 2020 saw the emergence of the Covid-19 virus, causing a pandemic around the world, especially causing a decrease in economic growth around the world and also in Thailand. The effect was clearly more pronounced during the second quarter of the year, when a lot of countries were in lockdown at least for a few weeks.

In Thailand, both imports (-7.09 %) and exports (-12.62 %) decreased substantially, causing a decrease in Total Trade by 9.81 %.

Strikingly, the trade balance remained positive and more than doubled when compared to the same period of the previous year, to 10.701 billion U.S. Dollar.

Trade of Thailand with the rest of the World : Comparison first Half 2019 with first Half 2020 (Covid-19 Pandemic)

Exports, Imports, Trade Balance, and Total Trade of Thailand. For the first half of 2020, compared to the first half of 2019.In million of U.S. Dollars.

 

When looking at the trading between Thailand and its major partners, there are some interesting observation. While overall exports with the world decreased, exports to China (+5.82 %) and to the U.S.A. (+2.5 %) actually increased. Exports to ASEAN and Japan decreased, both by more than 9 %, while exports to Europe decreased by a smaller amount.

There was a substantial decrease in imports from Europe (-20.92), Japan (-16.94 %) and ASEAN (-9.06 %). Imports from China (-0.57 %) and the U.S.A. (-1.78 %) were less affected.


Trade between Thailand and its major Trading Partners, Comparison between first Half 2019 and first Half 2020

Exports to and Imports from Thailand's major trading partners. Comparing first half of 2019 with first half of 2020.

 

When looking at the value of exports, we see that most categories of goods were exported less (value) than in the first half of 2019.

Striking is the decrease in cars, car parts and accessories, which saw a drop in exports from 13.81 billion U.S. Dollar, to 9.312 billion U.S. Dollar, likely in line with less car sales all around the world. The value of most categories was mostly in line with the average overall decrease in exports. Exports of fruits increased though, and we understand this is mostly caused by ever increasing exports of durian to China.

Strangely enough, Thailand exported a substantial value of 'parts of aircraft'. We could not immediately figure out what that was all about, since Thailand does not, as far as we know, a substantial aircraft industry. Maybe some superfluous airplanes have been sold ?

What is interesting is the substantial increase in export value of precious stones and likely mostly gold. This category already saw an increase of exported value during 2019 (compared with 2018). The price of gold has gone up a lot during the first half of 2020. At the same time, Thai people may be in need of cash. For both reasons, it looked like a good time to sell gold, to the many gold shops around Bangkok, and Thailand.

We discovered that local gold traders don't like to accumulate gold, and do not store it apparently in their vaults or in some safe location created for that purpose. They sell in on the global market. So if the value of exports of gold increases, it simply means local gold shops have offloaded their gold on the international market. (Thailand does not at present, have any substantial gold mining). Of course, with the increase in the price gold, less gold is necessary to create increased export value, compared to the previous year.

Export Value of most important Export Categories from Thailand - First Half 2020 ( Covid-19 Pandemic )

Exported Products from Thailand, first half of 2020, compared to first half of 2019.

 

 

Change in Export Value of most important Export Categories for Thailand - First Half of 2019 compared with first Half of 2020

Percentual Change in Export Value for different categories. Comparison between first half of 2020 and first half of 2019.

 

 

Resources : Data as provided on the website of the Ministry of Commerce