The Thai economy is set to expand 7 per cent this year and likely to continue growing by 3.5-4.5 per cent next year, according to a top Bangkok commercial banker.

Kasikornbank Executive Vice President Vasin Vanichvoranun said that state and private investment is expected to expand further while exports are forecast to grow slowly at 6-7 per cent compared with a 27 per cent surge this year.

Key risk factors to the economic growth next year include higher oil prices, which could fuel inflationary pressure, baht volatilities, impacts of inundations, and political uncertainties.

Industries expected to grow further include agriculture and foods boosted by higher product prices, vehicles and parts set to expand in terms of local sales and exports, and construction and building materials boosted by an implementation of state-supported investment projects.

Other industries with growth potential are machinery and equipment, alternative energy, industrial estate, and tourism.

The country’s gross domestic product in the first nine months of this year rose 9.3 per cent when compared to the same period of last year, thanks to continuous expansion in exports, investment and consumption.The NESDB expected the Thai economy in the fourth quarter to drop 0.3 per cent due to the heavy flooding in many areas of the country, but the GDP for the entire 2010 should increase 7.9 per cent.

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