THAI TRADE DEFICIT WIDENED IN OCTOBER

THAI TRADE DEFICIT WIDENED IN OCTOBER

Thailand's trade deficit widened to about 20.8 billion baht ($818 million) in October from 7.8 billion a month earlier and 16.7 billion the year before, the Bank of Thailand said.

The October current account deficit also widened sharply to 16.8 billion baht from 6.8 billion the month before.But the bank said a dramatic increase in foreign investment and capital in October helped brighten the balance of payments, which showed a 44.2 billion baht surplus, up from 19.5 billion in September. The private sector's capital account posted a big net inflow of 54.0 billion baht in October against 30.0 billion in September.

The central bank said October exports eased to about 82.0 billion baht

from 88.6 billion in September but against 72.6 billion in October 1992.

October imports, however, jumped to 102.8 billion baht from 96.4 billion in September and 89.3 billion in October 1992.

Thailand's trade deficit from January to October widened to an estimated 191.1 billion baht from 165.8 billion a year ago.

The bank said exports rose 11.1 percent during the first 10 months to 748.7 billion baht, but they were outpaced by 11.9 percent growth in imports to 939.8 billion.

It said overall industrial exports rose 16 percent in the period, with computer chip sales to Japan rising more than 80 percent and shipments to the United States and the Netherlands, up more than 40 percent.

Textile exports, Thailand's biggest industrial product, rose a lackluster 5 percent, largely due to European economic recession and competition from Eastern Europe, which has cheaper textile labor costs.

Farm product exports declined 12 percent during January-October. Rice sales, buffeted by intense Vietnamese competition in early 1993, earned 15 percent less foreign exchange than a year ago.

Tapioca export revenue fell more than 20 percent, as EU grain prices plunged after the European Union slashed its farm subsidies.

The bigger trade deficit worsened Thailand's current account deficit, widening it to about 152.1 billion baht during the first 10 months from 137.6 billion a year ago.

But the balance of payments posted a sharply bigger surplus of 126.1 billion baht, against 36.8 billion a year ago, largely because of a net influx of foreign capital and investment.

The central bank said the net inflow of foreign funds into the bullish Thai equity market soared to 63.2 billion baht during January-October from 8.8 billion a year ago. Net foreign investment in Thai stocks in October alone increased to 35.0 billion baht from 9.5 billion in September.