Thai­land raises 2017 GDP growth fore­cast to 3.8%

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

BANGKOK: Thai­land’s fi­nance min­istry has raised its eco­nomic growth fore­cast for this year to 3.8% from 3.6%, and up­graded its es­ti­mate for ex­port gains, a se­nior of­fi­cial said.

Ex­ports, a key driver of Thai growth, should in­crease 8.5% this year, com­pared with the 4.7% pro­jected in July, Suwit Ro­jana­vanich, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the min­istry’s Fis­cal Pol­icy Of­fice, told a news con­fer­ence.

South-East Asia’s se­cond-largest econ­omy this year will mainly be driven by stronger ex­ports and tourism amid im­proved pri­vate in­vest­ment, he said.

So far, a strong baht has not ap­peared to dent Thai­land’s ex­port com­pet­i­tive­ness, but the govern­ment is wor­ried that trade and eco­nomic growth could be dented in 2018 if the baht con­tin­ues to climb.

The baht has ap­pre­ci­ated by 7.7% against the dol­lar this year, the big­gest gain among Asian cur­ren­cies.

Ex­ports re­cov­ered in 2017 af­ter a mod­est 0.5% rise in 2016 fol­low­ing three years of con­trac­tion, cus­toms data showed.

For 2018, the min­istry pre­dicts eco­nomic growth of 3.8%, mainly driven by govern­ment spend­ing. It pre­dicts ex­ports will rise 5.7%.

Last month, the Bank of Thai­land raised its 2017 eco­nomic growth fore­cast to 3.8% from 3.5%. It also projects growth of 3.8% for 2018.

Thai­land’s growth has picked up but still lags re­gional peers. Pri­vate in­vest­ment has re­mained weak for years while high house­hold debt has crimped con­sump­tion.

In 2016, the econ­omy ex­panded 3.2%.

The fi­nance min­istry pre­dicts the cen­tral bank will keep its pol­icy in­ter­est rate at 1.5%, where it has been since April 2015, through­out 2018. — Reuters

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