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Thailand’s economy improved slightly in December 2019

The Thai economy improved slightly in December 2019, but overall economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2019 continued to be on the decelerating trend.

Boris Sullivan

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According to the latest Press Release on the Economic and Monetary Conditions for December and the fourth quarter of 2019 Bank of Thailand, the Thai economy slightly improved in December 2019 .

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The value of merchandise exports, manufacturing production, private investment indicators, and public spending contracted at a lower rate. However, private consumption indicators expanded at a pace close to the previous month.

Meanwhile, the tourism sector expanded at a slower pace after the low base effect from the tour boat incident in Phuket last year abated.

Overall economic activity in the fourth quarter of 2019 continued to be on the decelerating trend

The continued contraction of merchandise export value affected domestic economic activities more evidently.

Private consumption indicators decelerated relative to the first half of the year, in line with softening non-farm income and consumer confidence despite supports from the government’s economic stimulus measures.

The slowdown in both domestic and external demand led to a higher contraction in manufacturing production and private investment indicators.

Meanwhile, public spending contracted due to the FY2020 budget has yet to be enforced. Only the tourism sector continued to expand well, partly due to the low base effect from the tour boat incident in Phuket last year.

On the stability front, headline inflation declined from the previous quarter on the back of fresh food prices. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged. Meanwhile, the number of employed persons slightly increased. The current account remained surplus. Capital and financial accounts recorded a deficit from the asset position.

The number of foreign tourist arrivals expanded by 2.5 percent compared with the same period last year.

This was attributed to the exemption of the visa on arrival (VOA) fee, encouraging more visitors from China, India, and Taiwan, together with the continued expansion of other tourists such as those from Laos, Japan, South Korea,and Russia. However, the number of foreign tourists grew at a softer pace from the previous month as the low base effect from the tour boat incident in Phuket last year disappeared.

The value of merchandise exports contracted by 1.7 percent from the same period last year

This was the lower rate from7.7 percent in the previous month as

1) exports of petroleum-related products contracted at a lower rate due to some oil refineries were back to operate normally after the temporary shutdown in the preceding period, coupled with the increase in global crude oil prices;

2) exports of electric appliances and hard disk drive turned into expansion thanks to the relocation of production base to Thailand in the previous periods;

3) exports of other electronic parts expanded in line with a clearer recovery sign of the electronic cycle; and

4) the temporary effect of Chinese lunar new year that came earlier than last year. As a consequence of improved merchandise exports, manufacturing production contracted at a slower pace.

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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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