Bank of Thailand should keep baht competitive for trade: Somkid

Bank of Thailand should keep baht competitive for trade: Somkid

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak (Government House file photo)
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak (Government House file photo)

The Bank of Thailand should ensure the baht is competitive and has a trade advantage as the coronavirus pandemic hits the economy, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said on Wednesday.

The economy, which is heavily reliant on exports and tourism, could lose more than a trillion baht and up to 10 million jobs.

While overall exports are weak, demand for food shipments has sharply increased and there is a need to ensure the export sector is able to compete, particularly with rival Vietnam and Malaysia, Mr Somkid told reporters.

"On the currency, I've asked the central bank to ensure it is competitive and has a trade advantage, he said, adding every country was competing for exports.

The baht traded at 32.46 per US dollar at 2.13pm, hovering near three-week highs. But it has weakened by 7.9% against the greenback so far this year.

However, the central bank has said it has no policy of currency intervention with the aim of competitive advantage in trade.

Mr Somkid also said the government would introduce a new stimulus package in June to boost domestic consumption and to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on jobs.

"If the situation in Europe and the United States continues like this, it's impossible that the Thai economy will get back to normal quickly," he said. "It's impossible for exports to bounce back this year and the same for tourism."

The package will be financed by planned borrowing of 1 trillion baht, and will follow a series of economic steps worth billions more.

Somkid said the private sector planned to support virus-hit businesses via an equity fund.

Companies, with the government's participation, may buy battered shares of firms such as those in the tourism industry.

Thailand has reported 2,826 cases of infection and 49 deaths. 

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