Thai baht up for fifth straight week as ministers see better trade, growth numbers

Finance Minister Tantivorawong says the Thai GDP growth rate should increase by 0.4-0.5 percentage points in 2017 on extra government spending of 190 billion baht.

Thai baht
Thai baht up for fifth straight week Reuters

The Thai baht has traded higher against the US dollar on Friday (Jan 27) and it was also up for the fifth straight week leading to its strongest weekly close in more than two months while commerce and finance ministers said the country's trade balance and GDP will be better in 2017.

The baht traded near 35.30 at the day's close, and the move off the 11-month low of 36.10 touched on December 21 resulted in a 2.26% gain against the greenback.

According to the Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, the Thai GDP growth rate should increase by 0.4-0.5 percentage points in 2017 as the government has planned extra spending of 190 billion baht.

"Growth may not increase much but we hope the country will be able to compete and people's lives will get better," Tantivorawong told the parliament on Friday.

The Finance Ministry's current GDP growth forecast for 2017 is 3.4% and it will give a new forecast on Monday.

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Apiradee Tantraporn said Thai exports will benefit from US President Donald Trump's policies especially in areas like automobiles and parts, seafood, fruit, gems, ornaments and rubber.

She said the Thai products in those categories are dear for the middle income US consumers. According to her, the likely US initiatives to narrow down its trade deficit will target countries like Mexico, Canada, Japan and China.

Thai Trade Balance

Thailand posted a trade surplus of $0.94 in December, compared to a $1.49 billion surplus a year earlier and $1.54 billion in November according to the data published on 24 January.

Year-on-year, sales increased by 6.2% to $18.17 billion, following a 10.2% rise in the prior month. It was the second straight month of growth, as higher global oil prices helped lift demand from the country. Purchases went up 10.3% to $17.23 billion, accelerating from a 3.0% rise in a month earlier.

Thailand posted its record yearly surplus in 2016 as exports grew by 0.45% in the 12 months to December compared to the same period a year earlier, ending three consecutive years of export contraction; while imports fell 3.9%.

The all-time monthly high was the February 2016 reading of $4990 million and the lowest number on record was a deficit of $5906.41 million posted in January 2013.

The GDP Scenario

The Thai economy grew by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in the three months to September as per data published on November 21. It compared to a downwardly revised 0.7% expansion in the previous quarter and while the market had been expecting 0.7% growth.

Details showed that private consumption slowed and exports rebounded while government spending contracted.

Year-on-year, the country's GDP expanded 3.2% from a year earlier in the September quarter, compared to a 3.5% expansion in the second quarter and market expectations of a 3.4% growth.