Exports in January probably rose 13.85 percent from January 2012, according to the median forecast of 10 economists polled by Reuters. In December, shipments increased 13.45 percent year-on-year.
The poll forecast a trade deficit of $2.05 billion.
"The double-digit numbers are mostly due to the continuing low base effects from the end-2011 floods, although we expect the effect to disappear in February," said economist Chester Liaw of Forecast Pte in Singapore.
The floods swamped big industrial zones in the final quarter of 2011, closing down many big exporters. Industrial goods account for about 65 percent of total exports.
Although most affected factories are back to normal, some are still running at weak operating levels due to poor overseas demand for exports. A strong baht has added to the problems of exporters.
"The elevated baht will no doubt be a strong area of concern, especially when considering the wafer-thin margins of exporters," Liaw said.
The baht has risen 2.6 percent against the dollar this year, making it emerging Asia 's strongest currency, bolstered by foreign fund inflows. That compares with a 0.7 percent rise in the Philippine peso against the dollar and a 1.5 percent fall in Malaysia's ringgit.
The Bank of Thailand (BOT) is becoming more optimistic about demand. It forecast export growth of 9 percent for 2013, predicting a pick-up in the second half. Exports grew 3.2 percent in 2012.
On Feb. 20, the BOT's policy committee left the main interest rate unchanged at 2.75 percent, resisting government calls for a cut to stem the capital inflows that have pushed up the baht and hurt exporters. (Reuters)