GDP growth could hit 3.8% on exports
Thailand's economy could manage up to 3.8% growth this year if exports continue growing, says the government's planning unit.
The economy is expected to take off strongly in the second half of the year, driven by growing exports, higher private investment, improving farm prices and accelerated infrastructure development, said Porametee Vimolsiri, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).
"Exports are likely to grow more than projected, thanks to the overall global economic recovery," he said.
The Commerce Ministry reported last week that Thai exports jumped 13.2% year-on-year in May to US$19.9 billion (676 billion baht), the highest in more than four years, as the global economic recovery helped boost demand and shrug off the impact of the baht's appreciation.
The rise in May exports was far above the 8.4% growth in April, driven by increases in demand for several products.
Agricultural and agribusiness exports rose 17.6% year-on-year in May, fetching $3.24 billion, helped by higher shipments of rubber, sugar, rice, vegetables and fresh fruits -- particularly durian, shipments of which jumped 159.3% from the same period last year.
Exports of industrial products rose by 12.8% to $15.6 billion, led by processed rubber, automobiles, electric circuits, computers and components, while jewellery remained in negative territory.
The NESDB is scheduled to unveil the economic figures for the second quarter and revise the economic growth forecast on August 21.
The NESDB predicted in May that the country's economic growth would stay in a range of 3.3-3.8% or average 3.5% this year, up from 3.2% growth in 2016 and 2.9% in 2015.
It cut its total investment growth projection to 4.4% this year from 5.3% as private investment has not improved as expected.
Its private investment outlook was cut to only 2% growth from 2.5%, while government investment was slashed to 12.6% growth from 14.4%.
The NESDB did raise its export growth forecast to 3.6% from 2.9% in an earlier forecast due to the economic recovery of Thailand's key trading partners.
Mr Porametee said private investment is expected to improve in the latter half of the year on the back of recovering exports.
He earlier said the country's economic growth in the second quarter is unlikely to be as high because of the relatively big base of 3.6% in the same period of last year.