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World Bank cuts Thailand’s growth rate projection to 3.8%

Growth in developing East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) is projected to soften, while growth rate in Thailand is expected to be slightly lower in 2019

Olivier Languepin

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Growth in developing East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) is projected to soften to 6.0 percent in 2019 and 2020, down from 6.3 percent in 2018, largely reflecting global headwinds and a continued gradual policy-guided slowdown in China, according to the latest edition of the semiannual East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, Managing Headwinds.

While trade policy uncertainty has abated somewhat, global trade growth is likely to moderate further, according to Managing Headwinds, the April 2019 edition of the World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update.

Domestic demand has remained strong in much of the region, the report adds, partly offsetting the impact of slowing exports.

Strong domestic demand

Strong domestic demand in Thailand helped offset a slowdown in exports and helped the economy expand by 4.1 percent compared with 3.9 percent in 2017.

Private consumption in Thailand grew at its fastest pace in almost six years on the back of a supportive low-inflation and low-unemployment environment as well as the expiration of the holding period for cars purchased in the first-car tax rebate program.

Specific Forecasts

  • China’s ongoing, policy-guided slowdown will lead to 6.2 percent growth in 2019 and 2020, down from 6.6 percent in 2018.
  • Growth in Indonesia and Malaysia is projected to remain unchanged in 2019, while growth rates in Thailand and Vietnam are expected to be slightly lower in 2019.
  • In the Philippines, a delay in approving the 2019 national government budget is expected to weigh on GDP growth in 2019, but growth is anticipated to pick up in 2020.

Citing the East Asia and Pacific Update report, the World Bank’s senior economist for Thailand, Mr. Kiatpong Ariyapratya, said that the Word Bank also projects that Thailand’s growth rate for next year would remain at 3.8%.

Current account surplus narrowed

Thailand’s current account surplus narrowed due to a reduction in services exports caused by fewer tourists from China (after a boating accident affected confidence) and a reduction in automotive parts exports to China due to the trade dispute between the United States and China.

“The region’s resilient growth should bring about further poverty reduction, already at historic lows. By 2021, in fact, we expect extreme poverty to dip below 3 percent,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific.

At the same time, however, half a billion people in the region remain economically insecure, at risk of falling back into poverty— an important reminder of the scale of the challenges facing policymakers.

Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific.

Although Thailand’s growth projection is lower than the average 4%-5% rate for the rest of ASEAN, Mr. Kiatpong said that Thailand’s economic growth trend was improving compared to the situation 2-3 years ago

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Thai fruit exports to FTA markets up 107 percent

China, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia and Chile are top importers of Thai fruits, especially fresh durian, mangosteen, longan and mango. Thai exporters are able to benefit from FTA privileges.

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – Thailand’s fruit exports continue to increase, despite the sluggish global economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with key trade partners being countries that have free trade agreements (FTAs) with the kingdom.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a perfect storm, destroying jobs, worsening poverty and inequality, and creating a public and private debt problem—especially for countries and firms already in fragile financial health beforehand

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Economics

50:50 campaign may not get immediate extension

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – The government’s 50:50 co-pay campaign expiring on 31st March may not be getting an immediate campaign extension. The Minister of Finance says campaign evaluation is needed to improve future campaigns.

The Minister of Finance Arkhom Termpittayapaisith today announced the government may not be able to reach a conclusion on the extension of the 50:50 co-pay campaign in time for the current 31st March campaign end date, as evaluations are needed to better improve the campaign.

Originally introduced last year, the 50:50 campaign is a financial aid campaign for people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the government subsidizes up to half the price of purchases at participating stores, with a daily cap on the subsidy amount of 150 baht, and a 3,500 baht per person subsidy limit over the entire campaign.

The campaign has already been extended once, with the current end date set for 31st March.

The Finance Minister said that payout campaigns for the general public are still valid in this period, allowing time for the 50:50 campaign to be assessed, and to address reports of fraud at some participating stores.

The Fiscal Police Office Director General and the Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Kulaya Tantitemit, said today that a bigger quota could be offered in Phase 3 of the 50:50 campaign beyond the 15 million people enrolled in the first two phases, while existing participants will need to confirm their identity if they want to participate in Phase 3, without the need to fill out the registration form.

Mrs Kulaya said the campaign will still be funded by emergency loan credit allocated for pandemic compensation, which still has about 200 billion baht available as of today.

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