Thailand posted a trade deficit of 22.19 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, with exports declining by over 0.3 percent from the previous year, statistics released on Friday by the Bank of Thailand (BOT) showed. This is the first such deficit the country has witnessed in the past four years, according to the BOT. In 2013, the country earned some 228.5 billion U.S. dollars from exports, down 0.31 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, the country spent 250.7 billion U.S. dollars for imports, up 0.29 percent from the preceding year, according to the statistics. Business confidence index for December 2013 stood at only 45, the lowest level since the devastating flood in 2011, said the bank. The BOT said a slight imbalance was seen in payments caused by the capital flow deficit following the selling of foreign assets in Thai capital market. Meanwhile, inflation remained low thanks to the decline in fresh food prices and was in line with energy prices and the economic slowdown, said the bank. The country's tourism sector witnessed a slower growth, which was attributed to the implementation of China's new tourism law since October 2013 amid Thai political instability. Thailand welcomed some 2.6 million tourists in the first month of 2014, an increase of 6.7 percent compared with 11.9 percent in the previous month.