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Thai Feb exports fall 2.8% y-o-y, less than forecast
[BANGKOK] Thailand's customs-cleared exports contracted in February after three months of increases, but the drop was smaller than expected and the government was still optimistic about the trade outlook.
Exports were down 2.8 per cent in February from a year earlier after January's 8.8 per cent rise, commerce ministry data showed on Wednesday. A Reuters poll predicted a 4 per cent fall for February, on an annual basis.
February's exports showed a decline because the year-earlier figures were high, driven by gold and helicopters, Pimchanok Vonkhorporn of the Commerce Ministry told a briefing.
Excluding those items, exports last month rose 8.5 per cent from a year earlier, suggesting Thai shipments remained competitive, she said.
The commerce ministry aims for export growth of 5 per cent this year after a rise of 0.45 per cent in 2016, the first gain in four years.
Imports in February jumped 20.4 per cent from a year earlier. Economists had expected a rise of 12.6 per cent, after January's 5.17 per cent increase.
The February trade numbers produced a trade surplus of US$1.61 billion, compared with a poll forecast of US$2.4 billion and January's US$826 million surplus .
Thai exports traditionally are a key growth driver for South-east Asia's second-largest economy.
Many of the materials Thailand imports are assembled into completed goods and shipped out again.