Jabs, rising exports may boost GDP
A new state-private vaccination plan and good export prospects may help Thailand secure 1.5-3% GDP growth this year despite economic uncertainties caused by the third wave of Covid-19, says the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Sanan Angubolkul, the chamber chairman, remains optimistic about the Thai economy, believing business activities in the second half of the year will help increase GDP growth in 2021 following a weak first half.
He based his prediction on exports, which are expected to grow more than 4% this year because of a global economic recovery and vaccinations. The Thai government has promised to work with the private sector to speed up vaccine rollout to 50 million people by year-end.
The government plans to acquire 100 million doses, while the private sector, in cooperation with Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, provides 14 vaccination venues in addition to hospitals.
“If vaccine procurement and distribution go as planned, along with better tourism in the fourth quarter, GDP will go up,” said Mr Sanan.
Under this assumption, GDP growth may be as high as 3% in the third quarter and rise to 4% during the last three months of this year, he said.
However, the economy in the first and second quarters could contract because of the impact of the two Covid-19 waves, said Mr Sanan.
The second outbreak, which erupted in a major industrial hub in Samut Sakhon in mid-December last year, continued until February.
The third wave, sparked by disease transmissions in Bangkok pubs in April, remains volatile and has drawn stronger measures to curb the spread.
If the third outbreak lasts for 2-3 months, business groups predict it will cause damage worth 100-150 billion baht a month.
However, Mr Sanan said, the industrial sector will not be directly affected as the government is trying to avoid a broad lockdown.
He believes the economic impact will be smaller than last year.
Mr Sanan also clarified the chamber’s earlier statement in support of state procurement of vaccines without needing the help of private companies.
“The chamber believes the job will be accomplished faster by the government,” he said. “It will lead to redundancy and confusion if we negotiate with same vaccine manufacturers.”