Thailand Sees 8.5% GDP Contraction as Virus Ravages Economy
(Bloomberg) — Thailand’s economy will likely contract 8.5% in 2020, worse than previously estimated and the biggest decline of any Asian nation this year.
The Finance Ministry’s forecast, released in Bangkok on Thursday, compares with a previous projection of 2.4% growth. The central bank is estimating the economy will shrink 8.1%.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the export- and tourism-reliant economy into its worst crisis ever, prompting fiscal stimulus of 1.9 trillion-baht ($60 billion) and interest rate cuts to a record low.
The ministry signaled the worst may be over, with the economy’s contraction in the second half likely to ease, Lavaron Sangsnit, director-general of the fiscal policy office, told reporters. Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy may return to growth next year, expanding 4% to 5%, he said.
Other forecasts from the ministry:
- Consumer prices will likely decline 1.3% in 2020
- Export volumes are forecast to plunge 27.8% in 2020, and contract 11% in value terms, while the trade surplus is seen at $30.7 billion
While Thailand hasn’t detected any new coronavirus cases from local transmission for about two months, a second wave of infections in several countries is making it difficult to open borders.
“We expect Thailand is less likely to see return of tourists at the end of the year as travel bubble talks have disappeared,” said Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bank of Ayudhya, who is forecasting a 10.3% contraction in GDP this year. “In the next year, the tourism industry will not be able to carry the Thai economy.”
(Updates with comment from Finance Ministry and economist.)
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