A Reuters poll has indicated that Thailand’s economy likely grew modestly in the first quarter, thanks to robust exports and an easing of pandemic restrictions. This is despite tourist arrivals remaining low and high inflation dampening consumer spending.
According to a May 6-13 poll of 15 economists, the economy is estimated to have expanded 2.1% in the January-March period compared with the same period a year earlier. It showed annual growth of 1.9% in the previous quarter.
A smaller sample of forecasts showed first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have been 0.9% higher than in the previous quarter. That would be half of the quarterly growth of 1.8% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Phacharaphot Nuntramas, chief economist at Krung Thai Bank, said, “A deceleration of GDP growth is expected due to impacts from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a decline in consumer confidence with soaring inflation and a decline in household non-energy spending”.
According to a separate Reuters poll, inflation has remained above the Bank of Thailand’s upper limit of 3% so far this year and is expected to remain there until the end of the year.
The tourism industry is meanwhile on track to receive just 6.1 million foreign visitors this year, falling short of an earlier projection of 7 million because of China’s travel restrictions and curtailment of Russian visits due to the war in Ukraine.
GDP for all of 2022 is expected to be 3.5% higher than a year earlier, according to another Reuters poll, in line with recently trimmed government projections and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).