Factory output, exports rise as trade deficit narrows in Oct

Factory output, exports rise as trade deficit narrows in Oct

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

Thailand recorded a current account deficit of $1.1 billion in October after a deficit of $1.3 billion the previous month, the central bank said on Tuesday.

Exports, a key driver of growth, rose 17.0% in October from a year earlier, with imports up 20.1% year-on-year and a trade surplus of $3.8 billion.

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is maintaining its forecast for 0.7% growth in gross domestic product this year, but the figure could end up being slightly higher, a senior director said.

The impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on the economy is also likely to only appear next year, senior director Chayawadee Chai-Anant, told a virtual news conference.

The assessment of how the variant could play out will take time but there should be a clearer picture at the next monetary policy committee meeting on Dec 22, she said.

"We are watching for developments and the severity (of Omicron)," said Ms Chayawadee, noting that a good signal appeared to be that the response from many countries to Omicron had been faster than with the earlier Delta variant.

She said monetary measures would support a recovery in the tourism-reliant economy and fiscal measures continued to be introduced. The BoT, which expects GDP growth to recover to 3.9% next year, has left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.50% since May 2020.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved a 76 billion baht plan to support rice farmers' income and an additional 10 billion baht to support rubber prices, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana told a separate briefing.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing production index (MPI) in October rose 2.91% from a year earlier, the industry ministry said, following an easing of coronavirus restrictions.

The reading compared with a forecast for a 1.6% rise in output in a Reuters poll and September's revised 0.3% increase. The ministry forecast the MPI index would increase 5.2% in 2021 and rise 4%-5% in 2022 after contracting 9.3% last year.

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