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Thai exports seen up 1.9% y-o-y in March, output falls deeper

[BANGKOK] Thailand's customs-cleared exports likely rose slightly in March from a year earlier due to high comparative figures and still soft global demand, a Reuters poll showed, weighing on factory output.

Exports, which are pivotal for Thailand's economy, are forecast to rise 1.9 per cent in March on the year after February's 2.8 per cent drop, according to the median forecast from 12 economists polled.

In March 2016, annual shipments were exceptionally high at US$19.13 billion, driven by a surge in gold and auto shipments.

Thailand's commerce ministry aims for export growth of 5 per cent this year after a small increase in 2016, the first annual gain in four years.

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Imports in March may have increased 9.55 per cent from a year earlier after February's 20.4 percent jump, the poll showed.

Thailand likely had a trade surplus of US$1.72 billion in March after February's US$1.61 billion surplus.

In the poll, Thailand's manufacturing production index (MPI) likely declined for second straight month in March, down 1.65 per cent from a year earlier, after February's 1.5 per cent drop.

Industrial goods account for 80 per cent of total exports.