Thai GDP Falls At Fastest Pace In 8 Years; Govt Cuts Outlook

Thailand’s economy contracted at the fastest pace in more than eight years in the first quarter as coronavirus, or Covid-19, pandemic dampened tourism and trade, data from the National Economic and Social Development Council, or NESDC, showed on Monday.

Gross domestic product decreased by 1.8 percent year-on-year, following a rise of 1.5 percent in fourth quarter of 2019.

This was the biggest fall since the fourth quarter of 2011, when GDP was down 4 percent. This was also the first drop since early 2014. Nonetheless, the contraction was slower than the economists’ forecast of -4 percent.

On a quarterly basis, the economy shrank 2.2 percent after easing 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

According to planning agency, the economy will shrink 5.0-6.0 percent this year compared to a growth of 1.5 percent -2.5 percent projected in February.

Although the slump in the economy was less severe than expected in the first quarter, this will provide little comfort, Gareth Leather, an economist at Capital Economics, said. The second quarter data are set be much worse.

On the expenditure side, private final consumption expenditure grew 3.0 percent annually, following a 4.1 percent growth in the fourth quarter. However, the decline in government spending deepened to 2.7 percent from 0.9 percent.

Due to a fall in private investment, gross fixed capital formation was down 6.5 percent, reversing a 0.8 percent rise seen a quarter ago.

Exports of goods and services contracted 6.7 percent after a 3.4 percent drop a quarter ago. At the same time, imports slid at a slower pace of 2.5 percent following a 7.9 percent decrease in the previous quarter.

On the production-side, agricultural output decreased 5.7 percent, compared to a fall of 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Non-agricultural production declined 1.4 percent, in contrast to a rise of 2 percent in the preceding period.

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