2021 exports expected to grow 17%, most in 12 years - Arkhom

2021 exports expected to grow 17%, most in 12 years - Arkhom

(Bangkok Post file photo)
(Bangkok Post file photo)

Thai exports are expected to grow 17% this year, the highest growth rate in 12 years, the country's finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Monday.

Mr Arkhom also told an online forum that gross domestic product next year should grow around 4% or in a range of 3.5% to 4.5%.

The economy shrank by 0.3% in the third quarter, as Covid-19 restrictions hit tourism and domestic activity, though the drop was less than expected.

About 1 trillion baht of government infrastructure would help Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy achieve growth of 4% next year, he said.

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) intended to keep interest rates low for next year, central bank senior director Don Nakornthab said at the forum.

"This will keep financial conditions at levels that are not too tight," he said.

The BoT, which sees economic growth of 0.7% this year and 3.9% next year, has left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.50% since May, 2020.

The major risks for next year included the new Omicron coronavirus variant, which could hit the tourism sector, Danucha Pichayanan, the head of the state planning agency, told a separate economic forum.

Thailand's tourism sector had started seeing a gradual recovery after the country reopened for vaccinated travellers. The agency expects five million foreign travellers next year, compared with 40 million in 2019.

Other risks include those stemming from households that are still fragile especially in terms of credit card debt, said Mr Danucha. 

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