BoT: Growth to rev up after first-half slowdown

BoT: Growth to rev up after first-half slowdown

GDP growth is likely to come in below 3% in the first half before revving up in the latter half on an expected recovery in exports, says a senior Bank of Thailand official.

Economic growth is predicted at 2.8% in the first half and 3.8% in the second, bringing full-year growth to the 3.3% forecast by the central bank, Don Nakornthab, senior director of the economic and policy department, said yesterday at Kasikornbank's private banking seminar on the economic outlook.

Thailand's GDP grew by 2.8% year-on-year in the first quarter, down from a revised 3.6% in the fourth quarter of last year and the slowest pace in 17 quarters.

In 2018 the economy grew 4.1%, the highest rate in six years.

Ebbing exports and domestic investment bogged down economic growth during the January-to-March quarter. These factors prompted the central bank to cut its growth forecast for this year to 3.3% from the 3.8% seen previously.

The Bank of Thailand's latest forecast revision is based on an assumption of flat growth in exports this year.

The Fiscal Policy Office is set to jump on the forecast-cutting bandwagon later this month, as the second-half economy is likely to rekindle but the pace could be weaker than earlier expected.

The Finance Ministry's think tank in April cut its forecast for 2019 growth to 3.8% from the 4% predicted three months earlier due to sagging exports.

The full-year export growth will likely contract as predicted by the Thai National Shippers' Council, but outbound shipments are expected to fare better in the second half on the back of a low-base effect, Mr Don said.

The export contraction was in line with that of other regional peers and some of them were dealt a larger blow than Thailand, he said.

Customs-cleared outbound shipments fell by 5.8% year-on-year in May to US$21.01 billion after slipping 2.6% in April and 4.9% in March.

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