Thailand’s economy improves in May as COVID restrictions ease

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* April exports +6.6% y/y; Trade surplus at $1.1 billion

* Current April current account deficit at $3.4 billion, highest in 9 years

* weak baht moving in line with regional peers

BANGKOK, May 31 (Reuters) – Thailand’s economic activity in May gradually improved as concerns over the pandemic faded and restrictions were eased, the central bank said on Tuesday.

Issues to watch, however, include rising costs and prices, production parts shortages and a recovery in the vital tourism sector, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said.

The Southeast Asian country has eased most of its restrictions as COVID infections dwindle and will lift restrictions on nightlife from June in a bid to revive tourism.

The return of tourists is an important factor that would boost the economy, senior manager Chayawadee Chai-Anant told a news conference.

In March, the BOT predicted economic growth of 3.2% for 2022 with 5.6 million foreign arrivals. It will review these projections at its next monetary policy meeting on June 8.

In 2019, there were nearly 40 million foreign visitors.

A weak baht moves in line with regional currencies and is expected to remain volatile due to global uncertainty, Chayawadee said.

In April, the economy improved from the previous month with increased consumption and private investment, the BOT said https://www.bot.or.th/English/MonetaryPolicy/EconomicConditions/PressRelease/DocPressRelease/ PressEng_April2022_5ha3l.pdf.

Thailand’s current account deficit of $3.4 billion in April was the largest in nine years due to a lower trade surplus and increased remittances of profits and dividends by foreign companies.

Exports rose 6.6% in April from a year earlier, with imports up 19.1% year-on-year and a trade surplus of $1.1 billion for the month. (Reporting by Orathai Sriring, Kitiphong Thaichareon, Satawasin Staporncharnchai; Editing by Martin Petty)

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