October 19, 2017 / 4:37 AM / a year ago

Thai Sept exports up 12.2 pct y/y, above forecast

    BANGKOK, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Thailand's customs-cleared
annual exports rose for a seventh straight month in September,
better than expected as global demand remained strong,
suggesting Southeast Asia's second-largest economy is gaining
more traction.
    Exports, a key driver of Thailand's growth, climbed 12.2
percent in September from a year earlier after rising 13.2
percent in August, commerce ministry data showed on Thursday. 
    That beat the median forecast of a 10.42 percent rise from
eight economists polled by Reuters.
    Imports in September increased 9.73 percent from a year
earlier, less than the forecast of a 11.44 percent rise.
    That resulted in a trade surplus of $3.35 billion in
September, compared with a forecast of a $2.55 billion surplus.
    Exports grew 9.3 percent during January-September from a
year earlier, while imports rose 14.8 percent in the same
period, Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said at a briefing.
    Shipments have recovered this year, but exporters say they
are under pressure from a strong baht, which has
appreciated nearly 8 percent against the dollar this year so
far, the biggest gain in Asian currencies.
    However, the baht's strength has had only a little impact on
exports, historical data showed. The central bank has said trade
partners' economies matter more.
    The commerce ministry has forecast exports will increase 7
percent this year, accelerating from a modest 0.5 percent rise
last year following three years of contraction.
    Many of the materials Thailand imports are assembled into
completed goods and shipped out again.
 (Percentage change from a year earlier, in dollar terms;
figures may not add up exactly due to rounding):
                               Sept       Aug     July     June
 Exports (pct y/y)             12.2      13.2     10.5     11.7
 ($US bln)                    21.81     21.22    18.85    20.28
 Imports (pct y/y)             9.73      14.9     18.5     13.7
 ($US bln)                    18.45     19.13    19.04    18.37
 Trade balance ($US bln)       3.35      2.09    -0.19     1.92
 ($1 = 33.14 baht)

 (Reporting by Satawasin Staporncharnchai Thaichareon; Writing
by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
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