Thai Exports Rise More Than Estimated as Global Economy Recovers

Thailand’s exports rose more than economists estimated in January as a global recovery boosted demand, reducing pressure for further interest-rate cuts.

Overseas sales climbed 16.1 percent last month from a year earlier to $18.3 billion after climbing a previously reported 13. 5 percent in December, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 17 economists was 13.4 percent.

Thailand joined neighbors Malaysia and Singapore in reporting stronger-than-estimated economic growth last quarter, adding to signs the region is rebounding from a global slowdown. The Bank of Thailand last week held its key interest rate for a third time and said it expected a “gradual recovery in exports” this year, resisting the government’s calls for lower borrowing costs to cool the baht’s gains.

“There are positive signs in the global economy, especially in Asia, and that will help sustain export growth,” Thanomsri Fongarunrung, an economist at Phatra Securities Pcl in Bangkok, said before the report. “The risks to growth have lessened. There is no solid economic reason to cut the rate. Still, the central bank may face political pressure again if the baht strengthens further.”

Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong has renewed calls for further rate cuts to discourage inflows that have boosted the baht to be the biggest gainer this year among 11 widely-traded Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The baht was little changed at 29.83 per dollar as of 11:16 a.m. in Bangkok today.

Imports climbed 40.9 percent in January from a year earlier as factories stepped up output after recovering from the floods of 2011. The trade deficit last month was $5.5 billion, the widest shortfall since at least 1991, today’s report showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Suttinee Yuvejwattana in Bangkok at suttinee1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephanie Phang at sphang@bloomberg.net

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