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Thai Exports Climb for a Fourth Month as Global Demand Improves

Thai exports rose for a fourth straight month in December as demand for electronics and auto parts increased, even as a rising baht curbed the pace of growth.

Overseas sales rose 13.45 percent last month from a year earlier to $18.1 billion after climbing a previously reported 26.86 percent in November, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 15 economists was a 21.5 percent gain. Shipments increased 3.12 percent last year, the ministry said.

The Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said yesterday risks to growth have declined amid a firmer global recovery and that shipments show signs of a broad-based recovery. Still, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said last week the exchange rate is “not at a good level” and that exporters will face difficulties should the baht strengthen further.

“Shipments of industrial and agricultural goods have both improved,” Kampon Adireksombat, an economist at Tisco Securities Co. in Bangkok, said before the release. “The strong baht may have some impact on future orders. Still, the impact shouldn’t be much if global demand is stronger.”

The currency has advanced about 2.8 percent so far this year, the biggest gainer among 11 widely-traded Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The baht fell 0.2 percent to 29.82 per dollar as of 3:18 p.m. in Bangkok.

“We hope the authorities will take care of the baht, making sure it is stable and not too strong,” said Srirat Rastapana, director-general for the ministry’s Department of International Trade Promotion. “We hope it won’t strengthen further because exports already face many negative factors.”

Imports rose 4.67 percent in December from a year earlier for a trade deficit of $2.37 billion, compared with a shortfall of $1.45 billion reported earlier for November. The deficit in 2012 was $18.1 billion. Export growth may average between 8 percent and 9 percent this year, the ministry said last month.

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