BANGKOK (NNT) – With the COVID-19 pandemic having devastating effects on the economy, the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) has warned that recent protests by youth movements could increase the risks to the economy, with the annual economic performance this year now expected to shrink by 8-10 percent.

The UTCC President Thanawat Polvichai said the latest economic performance projection, at minus 8-10 percent, did not take into account recent political protests, which could continue to affect the perception and confidence among foreigners and international investors, even with the easing of lockdown restrictions.

He said investors may perceive that Thailand still remains in the cycle of extra-parliamentary politics, and the images of protests may deter visitors from planning their trips to Thailand, despite the country’s successful control of COVID-19.

The UTCC expects the Thai economy to contract more than the initially projected 8-10 percent figure, should the protests be prolonged or become violent.

Regarding the case of a COVID-19 positive Egyptian air force officer, and a COVID-19 positive family member of a Sudanese diplomat, who have been identified outside quarantine, the UTCC president said these cases affect the confidence people have in the government’s safeguard measures to prevent another outbreak.

He said these cases present an opportunity for related agencies to improve current measures and close any loopholes that may exist, which will help demonstrate to the general public the government’s capacity to solve problems in a timely manner.

The UTCC also suggests the government only open the country to select groups tourists, those with close relations to the government and foreign workers, in order to drive the economy forward.

According to a UTCC survey, the general public now gives more priority to their health and safety, than to restarting the tourism sector and the economy by opening the country to tourists.

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