Growth hinges on inoculation, foreign arrivals, exports

Growth hinges on inoculation, foreign arrivals, exports

Domestic virus inoculation, foreign tourist arrivals and export growth are among the key variables determining the revision of GDP growth outlook this year, says the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO).

Other factors influencing the economic growth assessment are the impact of the drought on agriculture and the efficacy of the government's financial relief measures to sustain private consumption, said FPO adviser Wuttipong Jittungsakul.

Despite reports of varying efficacy for different vaccine brands, the Covid-19 vaccine underpins any hope of Thailand re-opening and welcoming back foreign tourists.

The first 200,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from China arrived in Thailand yesterday. The shipment is part of 2 million doses, worth 1.2 billion baht, that the government ordered from Sinovac Life Sciences Co of China.

The 200,000 doses are to be stored and checked in a warehouse until Friday.

The doses are scheduled for delivery to specific hospitals on Saturday, with inoculations set to start next Monday.

With foreign tourist arrivals projected to be substantially lower given the second-wave outbreak, the FPO previously slashed Thailand's economic growth forecast to 2.8% this year, down from 4.5% estimated in October 2020.

The agency plans to update its economic growth projection for Thailand again in April.

The FPO forecasts full-year foreign tourist arrivals at 5 million this year, down from 8 million projected previously.

Lower foreign tourist arrivals translate to lower tourism revenue.

International tourism receipts are forecast at 260 billion baht this year, down from 400 billion expected earlier.

The FPO forecasts exports to expand by 6.2% in 2021 based on economic recovery among Thailand's major trading partners, such as China, the euro-zone bloc, Japan, Malaysia, the US and Vietnam.

Domestic economic conditions, meanwhile, slowed in January compared with December as there was a steep contraction in car purchases, said Mr Wuttipong.

Car purchases fell by 47% year-on-year last month, down from a 16.4% year-on-year expansion in December.

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