BANGKOK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Thailand’s customs-cleared exports defied analyst expectations in September, dropping for the first time in 19 months, commerce ministry data showed on Monday.
Exports, a key driver of Thai growth, fell 5.2 percent in September from a year earlier, compared with the median forecast for a 6.05 percent rise in a Reuters poll.
In August, exports rose 6.68 percent from a year earlier.
The export miss was due to a high comparative base, the United States-China trade war and trade partners’ economic problems, the ministry said.
Exports to the U.S. rose 1.2 percent in September from a year earlier, while ones to China slumped 14.1 percent.
Exports of cars and parts, computers and accessories fell 7.4 percent from a year earlier while rubber products dropped 2.4 percent, it said.
In September, imports rose 9.9 percent on an annual basis after surging 22.8 percent in August. The poll forecast was for a rise of 14.24 percent.
That resulted in a trade surplus of $0.49 billion in September, compared with a forecast $1.61 billion surplus, and against August’s $0.59 billion deficit.
In January-September, exports rose 8.13 percent from a year earlier while imports jumped 15.2 percent.
The commerce ministry said it still targeted export growth of 8 percent this year, after last year’s 9.9 percent rise. ($1 = 32.60 baht) (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon; Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Richard Borsuk)