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Thailand’s growth slips to a 5-year low at 2.4%

Thailand has recorded its slowest economic growth in five years at 2.4% according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC)

Boris Sullivan

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Thailand’s economy grew by 2.4 per cent in 2019, the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) said on Monday February 17th.

Thailand has recorded its slowest economic growth in five years, according to the kingdom’s economic planning agency, lower than the previous estimate of 2.6 per cent.

The NESDC said gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2019 expanded by 1.6 per cent year on year.

The NESDC has adjusted down its growth estimate for 2020 from 2.7-3.7 per cent to 1.5-2.5 per cent with a mean of 2 per cent.

Last week, senior central bank director Don Nakornthab said the economy might expand less than 2% this year, with first-quarter growth forecasted below 1%, due mainly to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier this month, the Bank of Thailand cut its policy rate to a record low of 1%, and Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said there was room to help growth if needed, pointing to possible further cut in the future.

Several major Thai banks have drastically reduced their GDP growth forecast for 2020 citing the coronavirus epidemic, drought and fiscal delays.

The COVID-19 epidemic, the delayed fiscal budget and the ongoing drought are estimated to shave nearly 280 billion baht off GDP, taking economic growth down to a range of 1.7-2.1%, according to TMB Analytics.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand expects foreign visitors to fall by 5 million this year and the loss in revenue could be as much as 500 billion baht, as tourist numbers from February 1-9 were down 43.4 per cent, and among Chinese visitors 86.5 per cent.

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