Growth of one of the Asian emerging economies, Thailand, in the fourth quarter was faster than projected, thanks to strong exports and a resurgence in domestic activity following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions and the reopening of borders to foreign tourists.
The government kept its economic growth forecast at 3.5 per cent to 4.5 percent, citing a minimal impact from the omicron-driven coronavirus epidemic, improved domestic demand, tourist recovery, and continuing export and public investment assistance.
Thailand’s GDP gained 1.6 per cent in 2021, one of the weakest in Southeast Asia, after contracting by 6.1 per cent in 2020.
According to data from the National Economic and Social Development Council, the second-biggest economy of Southeast Asia grew a seasonally adjusted 1.8 per cent in the December quarter from the previous three months, outpacing a forecast 1.4 per cent increase in a Reuters poll and following a revised seasonally adjusted 0.9 per cent contraction in the third quarter.
Based on current data, the economy is expected to perform well in the first quarter of this year, but there is some inflationary pressure, according to NESDC president Danucha Pichayanan.
“The main driver will be exports and fiscal disbursement, with tourism and domestic consumption adding to the support,” he said.
GDP of the country increased 1.9 per cent year over year in October-December, exceeding expectations of 0.7 per cent growth and reversing a 0.2 percent drop in the preceding three months.
Exports, a crucial engine of Thai development, increased 21.3 per cent year on year in the December quarter, while private consumption increased 0.3 per cent. In the fourth quarter of 2021, there were around 340,000 international tourists, up from 45,000 in the preceding three months.
Thailand reinstated a visitor quarantine waiver last month to help resuscitate the country’s critical tourism industry, which accounts for around 12 per cent of GDP.
In November, the state planning department predicted that 5.5 million visitors will visit in 2022, up from a prediction of 5 million in November.
However, with fewer than 40 million international tourists expected in 2019, the economic rebound would be gradual and unequal.
This year’s export increase is expected to be 4.9 per cent, according to the agency.
The government has allocated billions of dollars in relief measures to help the economy recover, while the central bank has kept its benchmark rate at 0.50 per cent, which is a record low since May 2020.
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)