Thailand cuts GDP outlook


BANGKOK: Thailand lowered its 2021 economic growth forecast to 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent as it is facing an uphill battle against third wave of COVID-19.

The tourism-reliant kingdom had previously forecast growth of between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent in February after it shrank 6.1 per cent last year, the deepest slump in more than two decades.

The National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) said Thailand’ 2021 economy is expected to expand in the range of between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent, mainly supported by a significant recovery of the global economy and merchandised trade, government expenditure, and low growth base in 2020.

"It is expected that export values of goods, private consumption expenditure, private investment and public investment to increase by 10.3 per cent, 1.6 per cent, 4.3 per cent, and 9.3 per cent, respectively.

"The headline inflation is expected to be in a range of between 1.0 and 2.0 per cent, and the current account tends to register a surplus of 0.7 per cent of GDP,” it said in a statement.

The Finance Ministry cut its 2021 GDP growth forecast to 2.3 per cent following the third wave of outbreak while Bank of Thailand predicts the GDP may grow only between 1.0 to 2.0 per cent this year.

As Thailand faces a surge in COVID-19 cases, its economy contracted 2.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 from a year earlier as the pandemic hurt consumption and the tourism sector.

Data showed the decline improving from a fall of 4.2 per cent in Q4 last year.

On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally basis, the GDP expanded by 0.2 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2020.

The NESDC said the government needs to contain the domestic COVID-19 infections to minimise the cases as soon as possible and to prevent a fresh wave of the pandemic.

The government also needs to implement targeted economic measures to support affected people, labour, and businesses together with the economic recovery policies, it added.

In the first quarter of this year, data showed the manufacturing sector grew for the first time in seven quarters by 0.7 percent, recovering from a 0.7 per cent decline in the previous quarter, driven primarily by domestic oriented and export-oriented industries.

The NESDC expects export value of goods to grow by 10.3 per cent, improving from a 6.6 per cent contraction in 2020.

It expects the number of foreign tourists to be merely 500,000 this year compared to the previous estimate of 3.2 million. - Bernama

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