Thailand June exports jump, but virus-outbreak hits consumption

BANGKOK, July 31 (Reuters): Thailand's economy in June continued to be affected by the latest wave of Covid-19 infections and economic activity is likely to be hit further by stricter containment measures, the central bank has announced.

The South-East Asian nation imposed this month tougher restrictions, including travel curbs, mall closures and curfews, as it struggles to tackle its biggest outbreak yet.

"In July, it's quite clear that economic activity is likely to drop from June, likely due to the more severe outbreak and more stringent control measures," senior director Chayawadee Chai-Anant told a briefing.

The central bank said last week the virus restrictions were expected to cut gross domestic product by 0.8-2.0%.

In June, private consumption remained weak while tourism had yet to recover, but exports, which jumped 46% year-on-year, had supported the economy along with increased public spending, the central bank said.

"The economic picture in June and the second quarter is similar," Chayawadee said.

Fiscal stimulus measures have helped the economy to some extent and the central bank also tries to help, she said.

"We feel the outbreak situation is more severe and more prolonged than expected, so we may have to find additional measures," Chayawadee said.

The central bank will ensure the baht is stable and not an obstacle to economic activity, she said, as the currency has weakened about 9% against the US dollar so far this year, becoming Asia's worst performing currency. - Reuters
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