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Thai Jan exports up 8.8% y-o-y, slightly below forecast

[BANGKOK] Thailand's customs-cleared exports rose for a third straight month in January, by slightly less than expected, a good sign for the trade-dependent economy that has lagged regional peers.

Exports were up 8.8 per cent in January from a year earlier after December's 6.2 per cent increase, commerce ministry data showed on Monday. A Reuters poll predicted a 9.85 per cent increase for January.

The commerce ministry has forecast export growth of 2.5-3.5 per cent this year, while the central bank projects shipments will be flat.

Imports in January increased 5.17 per cent from a year earlier. Economists had expected a jump of 11.9 per cent, after December's 10.3 per cent rise.

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The January trade numbers produced a trade surplus of US$826 million, compared with December's US$938 million surplus.

Thai exports, historically a key driver of South-east Asia's second-largest economy, edged up 0.45 per cent in 2016, ending three straight years of contraction.