* Exports may rise 3-5% in H1 and 4% in full-2021
* Jan exports to U.S. +12.4% y/y, to China +9.9%
* Jan imports -5.24% vs -8.30% in Reuters poll (Adds detail, H1 outlook)
BANGKOK, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Thailand’s exports in January rose for a second straight month, climbing 0.35% from a year earlier, and should continue to grow this year as the global economy recovers, the commerce ministry said on Tuesday.
Exports, a key driver of Thai growth, are expected to rise 4% this year after a 6.01% contraction in 2020, ministry official Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit told a briefing.
Supporting factors include stimulus measures in several countries and vaccine distribution, he said, adding that shipment growth could reach double digits in the June quarter.
“Exports could grow by 3-5% in the first half and by 3-4% in the latter half,” he said.
January’s exports, however, were short of the 1.85% rise forecast in a Reuters poll and slower than the 4.71% increase in December.
While shipments of cars and car parts, computers and rubber products increased last month, gold exports slumped 90.3% due to volatile gold prices. Excluding gold, exports would have risen 6.27%, the ministry said.
Demand from key markets was mostly higher in January, with exports to the United States up 12.4% year-on-year, to China up 9.9% and to Japan up 7.4%.
Imports in January declined 5.24% from a year earlier, beating a forecast 8.3% drop, resulting in a trade deficit of $202 million in the month. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Satawasin Staporncharnchai Writing by Orathai Sriring Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty)