The Kingdom of Thailand shipped US$245.3 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 16.4% gain since 2015 but a -1.8% decline from 2018 to 2019.
That dollar figure represents roughly 1.3% of overall global exports estimated at $19.285 trillion on year earlier during 2018 (calculated on February 2, 2019).
Applying a continental lens, almost two-thirds (63.2%) of Thai exports by value in 2019 were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 14.6% were sold to importers in North America. Thailand shipped another 12.4% worth to Europe and 5% to Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand.
Smaller percentages arrived in Africa (2.8%) and Latin America (1.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
Thailand’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Thailand’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Thai shipments by dollar value during 2019. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Thai exports.
- United States: US$31.4 billion (12.8% of total Thai exports)
- China: $29 billion (11.8%)
- Japan: $24.5 billion (10%)
- Vietnam: $12.1 billion (4.9%)
- Hong Kong: $11.7 billion (4.8%)
- Malaysia: $10.4 billion (4.2%)
- Australia: $10.1 billion (4.1%)
- Indonesia: $9 billion (3.7%)
- Singapore: $8.8 billion (3.6%)
- India: $7.3 billion (3%)
- Cambodia: $7.1 billion (2.9%)
- Philippines: $6.9 billion (2.8%)
- Switzerland: $5.5 billion (2.2%)
- Netherlands: $4.72 billion (1.9%)
- South Korea: $4.7 billion (1.9%)
About three-quarters (74.7%) of Thai exports in 2019 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Switzerland increased its purchases of Thai products at the fastest pace, thanks to a 113.2% in value from 2018 to 2019. The only other increase in Thai sales of its exported goods was to the United States.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
Thailand incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries.
- China: -US$22 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2019)
- Japan: -$9.2 billion
- United Arab Emirates: -$5.1 billion
- Taiwan: -$4.1 billion
- South Korea: -$4 billion
- Saudi Arabia: -$4 billion
- Thailand: -$3.7 billion
- Qatar: -$3.1 billion
- Malaysia: -$2.7 billion
- Germany: -$1.8 billion
Among Thailand’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Thai deficits with Malaysia (up 35.9%), Thailand (up 11.4%) and Germany (up 7.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Thailand’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Thailand to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Thailand incurred an overall $5.4 billion trade surplus during 2019, reversing -$1.1 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
Thailand incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$13.7 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2019)
- Hong Kong: $8.7 billion
- Vietnam: $6.5 billion
- Australia: $6.1 billion
- Cambodia: $4.8 billion
- Netherlands: $3.7 billion
- Philippines: $3.6 billion
- India: $2.4 billion
- Mexico: $2.2 billion
- South Africa: $2 billion
Among Thailand’s trading partners that generate the greatest positive trade balances, Thai surpluses with Australia (up 29.9%), United States (up 8.7%) and South Africa (up 5.4%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Thailand’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Thailand to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Thai Trading Partners
Fifteen Thai corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the major companies headquartered in Thailand that Forbes included:
- PTT PCL (energy)
- Siam Cement (specialized chemicals)
- PTT Global Chemical (diversified chemicals)
- Thai Beverage (beverages)
- Thai Oil (oil, gas)
- Total Access Communication (telecommunications)
According to IMPORTERS.com listings for Thai suppliers, the following are examples of companies that ship products from Thailand to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis are products that the Thai business provides.
- Dplus Intertrade Co,Ltd (LCD screen protectors)
- Dr.Sandals Online (hand-made sandals)
- Grand Asia Food Industry Company (canned fruits, vegetables)
- Kitthaworn Trading Co, Ltd (artificial flowers)
- LYR Premium Partnership, Ltd (printed T-shirts)
- Mae Chan Winery (wines)
- NF Trading Thailand Ltd (charcoal)
- Penta Pal Trading Co, Ltd (freeze-dried tropical fruits)
- S.T.Rubber Factory, Ltd (automotive, rubber-related)
- Somjit Trading & Services Co,Ltd (clothing manufacturer)
- Victory Gypsum Board Co, Ltd (ceiling tiles)
See also Thailand’s Top 10 Exports, Thailand’s Top 10 Imports and Thailand’s Top 10 Major Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 9, 2020
IMPORTERS.com The Online Market for G20 Importers, Germany Import Export Directory. Accessed on February 2, 2019
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 9, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 9, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 9, 2020