Customs-cleared exports unexpectedly rose in February, after contracting for three consecutive months, due to one-time shipment of arms and weapons, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday.
Exports in February rose 5.91% from a year earlier, compared with a Reuters poll prediction of a 1% drop in shipments, a key driver of Thai growth.
In January, shipments contracted 5.65% from a year earlier.
The gain in February was because of shipments of arms and weapons after military drills, otherwise exports would have dropped 3.4 percent, a ministry official told a briefing.
Exports of cars and car parts fell 7.9% in February from a year earlier, while computers and parts slumped 14.1%.
In February, imports fell 10.03% from a year earlier, after surprisingly jumping 13.99% in January. The poll forecast was for a 3.35% increase in February.
For February, there was a trade surplus of $4.03 billion, compared with a forecast of $0.14 billion surplus, and January’s deficit of $4.03 billion.
The ministry has forecast an export growth of 8% for this year after a 6.7% increase in 2018.
The Federation of Thai Industries said on domestic car sales in February rose 9.1% from a year earlier to 82,324 units, after rising 17.3% in January.
Sales were helped by improved economic growth and higher state and private investment.
Domestic car sales are forecast to be 1.05 million units for this year, up 2.44%, after last year’s 19.5% increase to 1.04 million units, the highest level in five years.
Thailand is a regional vehicle production and export base for the world’s top automobile manufacturers