Thai exports hit a record high in June as the country's trade surplus widened, Commerce Ministry figures showed Thursday, bolstering expectations of robust economic growth.
Exports grew 16.8 percent from a year earlier to $21.07 billion, after a 17.6 percent rise in May and Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said trade was likely to remain resilient despite a strengthening Thai baht and the European debt crisis.
"Export values in June were a historical high," she said, adding the ministry would hold its export target for the full year at 15 percent.
Imports expanded 26.1 percent to $19.81 billion.
The country posted a monthly trade surplus of $1.27 billion in June, from $277.5 million in May, which was caused by a slowdown in auto exports in the wake of Japan's March 11 quake-tsunami.
Exports to Japan continued to strengthen in June and robust demand was also seen from other Asian nations.
However growth in shipments to the United States and Europe was weaker as the two giant economic blocs struggle to recover from the global downturn.
The figures also showed exports jumped 23.6 percent to $114.98 billion in the six months to June, while imports swelled 28.5 percent to $111.53, resulting in a trade surplus of $3.45 billion.
KGI Securities economist Pragrom Pathormboorn told Dow Jones Newswires that the robust exports reinforced expectations that the economy would achieve 4.4 percent growth this year -- at the higher end of the firm's targets.
Economic growth hit 2.0 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months to March, the quickest pace in a year, helped by surging exports.
Pragrom brushed off concerns that the upward trend in interest rates may cause a further strengthening in Thailand's currency, which could hit exports and said the two factors were now less correlated.
Thailand raised its key interest rate to 3.25 percent this month and warned that the incoming government's populist policies were likely to fuel inflation.
Puea Thai, the winning party of exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, has outlined a raft of measures -- including an increase in the minimum wage -- that are expected to stoke cost pressure.