BANGKOK (AP) -- Thailand's exports posted their steepest fall in 12 years in January as demand for the country's cars, hard drives and electrical goods evaporated amid the global slump.
Exports for the month dropped 26.5 percent from a year earlier to $10.5 billion, Permanent Secretary of Commerce Ministry Siripol Yodmuangcharoen said Thursday.
The contraction in exports was the biggest since January 1997 and follows a 14.6 percent slide in December and a 20.5 percent decline in November.
Thailand's economy, the second largest in Southeast Asia, is extremely dependent on exports, which account for 65 percent of gross domestic product.
"Exports value fell in every sector," Siripol said.
For the country's three leading industries -- electronics, electrical appliances and automotive -- exports fell 40.4 percent, 29.5 percent and 34.5 percent respectively, he said.
Imports fell 37.6 percent, the biggest drop since May 1998. The trade surplus in January widened to $1.38 billion from $350 million a month earlier.
Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy contracted about 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 from a year earlier on a slump in exports and tourism, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said earlier this week.
The economy may also shrink in the first and second quarters of 2009 before rebounding in the second half of this year, he said.
Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said Wednesday the government will introduce more measures to stimulate the economy. Thailand's Parliament last week approved a 116.7 billion-baht ($3.3 billion) package to stimulate domestic demand and create jobs.