Thailand’s Top 10 Imports

Thailand's Top 10 Imports

Patpong market

Thailand imported US$250.9 billion worth of goods from around the globe in 2018, up by 10.1% since 2014 and up by 11.4% from 2017 to 2018.

Thai imports represent 1.4% of total global imports which totaled an estimated $17.788 trillion one year earlier during 2017 (as of January 2019).

From a continental perspective, 74.1% of Thailand’s total imports by value in 2018 were purchased from fellow Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 12.9% of imports into Thailand while 6.8% worth originated from North America. Oceania (Australia, New Zealand) accounted for 2.9% of the total. Even smaller percentages came from Africa (1.8%) and Latin America (1.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.

Given Thailand’s population of 68.6 million people, its total $250.9 billion in 2018 imports translates to roughly $3,700 in yearly product demand from every person in the East Asian country.

Thailand’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Thailand’s import purchases during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Thailand.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$45.6 billion (18.2% of total imports)
  2. Mineral fuels including oil: $42.7 billion (17%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $29.6 billion (11.8%)
  4. Gems, precious metals: $15.9 billion (6.4%)
  5. Iron, steel: $12.5 billion (5%)
  6. Vehicles: $10.2 billion (4.1%)
  7. Plastics, plastic articles: $9.6 billion (3.8%)
  8. Articles of iron or steel: $7.5 billion (3%)
  9. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $6 billion (2.4%)
  10. Organic chemicals: $5 billion (2%)

Thailand’s top 10 imports accounted for almost three-quarters (73.5%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Among these top categories, Thai purchases of mineral fuels including oil was the fastest gainer via a 35.1% increase in Thai import purchases since 2017.

In second place were iron and steel with its 17.7% uptick, trailed by the 16.5% year-over-year appreciation for organic chemicals and the 11.6% rise for vehicles.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

At the more granular 4-digit level, Thailand’s top 10 imported goods are crude oil (11.3% of its total), integrated circuits (5.4%), gold (4.5%), phone system devices including smartphones (3.1%), automobile parts or accessories (2.8%), processed petroleum oils (2.2%), petroleum gases (2%), computers (1.8%), miscellaneous iron or steel items (1.4%) then unrecorded sound media (1.1%).

Electronics

In 2018, Thai importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics.

  1. Integrated circuits/microassemblies: US$11.9 billion (up 5.4% from 2017)
  2. Phone system devices including smartphones: $7.8 billion (up 1.8%)
  3. Unrecorded sound media: $2.8 billion (up 18.7%)
  4. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $2.1 billion (up 4.6%)
  5. Electrical machinery: $2 billion (up 3.2%)
  6. Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $2 billion (up 24.1%)
  7. Insulated wire/cable: $1.9 billion (up 13.8%)
  8. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $1.9 billion (up 8.2%)
  9. Printed circuits: $1.3 billion (up 15.7%)
  10. Electrical converters/power units: $1.3 billion (up 8.3%)

Among these import subcategories, Thailand’s purchases of electrical or optical circuit boards or panels (up 24.1%), unrecorded sound media (up 18.7%) and printed circuits (up 15.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Thai businesses and consumers.

Fuel

In 2018, Thai importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related items.

  1. Crude oil: US$28.4 billion (up 41.6% from 2017)
  2. Processed petroleum oils: $5.4 billion (up 23.3%)
  3. Petroleum gases: $5.1 billion (up 31.6%)
  4. Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $1.6 billion (up 13.2%)
  5. Electrical energy: $1.4 billion (up 21.7%)
  6. Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $535.9 million (up 12.9%)
  7. Petroleum oil residues: $154.3 million (up 11%)
  8. Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $49.4 million (down -1.9%)
  9. Coke, semi-coke: $10.3 million (down -22.2%)
  10. Lignite: $7.1 million (up 16%)

Among these import subcategories, Thailand’s purchases of crude oil (up 41.6%), petroleum gases (up 31.6%) and processed petroleum oils (up 23.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of mineral fuels-related imports among Thai businesses and consumers.

Machinery

In 2018, Thai importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.

  1. Computers, optical readers: US$4.4 billion (up 17.7% from 2017)
  2. Computer parts, accessories: $2.3 billion (up 13.3%)
  3. Piston engine parts: $1.9 billion (up 4%)
  4. Air or vacuum pumps: $1.9 billion (up 6%)
  5. Turbo-jets: $1.5 billion (up 2%)
  6. Printing machinery: $1.3 billion (up 4.9%)
  7. Taps, valves, similar appliances: $1.1 billion (up 5.8%)
  8. Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $1.1 billion (up 2.5%)
  9. Miscellaneous machinery: $909.2 million (up 6.1%)
  10. Rubber/plastic article making machines: $841.5 million (up 34.4%)

Among these import subcategories, Thailand’s purchases of rubber or plastic article making machines (up 34.4%), computers including optical readers (up 17.7%) and computer parts or accessories (up 13.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Thai businesses and consumers.

Gems

In 2018, Thai importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of gems or precious metals.

  1. Gold (unwrought): US$11.4 billion (up 2.3% from 2017)
  2. Diamonds (unmounted/unset): $2.2 billion (up 17%)
  3. Jewelry: $717.9 million (up 12.7%)
  4. Silver (unwrought): $563.4 million (up 3.8%)
  5. Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung): $530 million (down -3%)
  6. Other precious metal items: $172.3 million (down -1.9%)
  7. Synthetic precious stones: $103.4 million (down -11.4%)
  8. Imitation jewelry: $84 million (up 31.5%)
  9. Platinum (unwrought): $60.5 million (up 11.8%)
  10. Coins: $59.3 million (up 1,052%)

Among these import subcategories, Thailand’s purchases of coins (up 1,052%), imitation jewelry (up 31.5%) and unmounted or unset diamonds (up 17%) grew at the fastest pace from 2017 to 2018.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported gems or precious metals among Thai businesses and consumers.



 
See also Thailand’s Top Trading Partners, Thailand’s Top 10 Exports and Thailand’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 2, 2019

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 2, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 2, 2019