Thailand’s economy to back to pre-pandemic levels in mid-2023: bank

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(Xinhua) — The Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), one of Thailand’s biggest commercial banks, expected the country’s economy to return to 2019 growth levels in mid-2023 amid improving domestic and international demand.

Undermining damages from economic scars, including worsening business dynamics, increasingly fragile labor market conditions as well as deteriorating household and small and medium enterprises’ balance sheets, mean that overall recovery of the Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy would be gradual, according to a report released by the SCB Economic Intelligence Center.

The latest COVID-19 outbreak, which has seen Thailand’s total number of infections surge from less than 30,000 in April to more than 1.7 million, has weakened private consumption and restricted international tourist arrivals, even though the government announced plans to ease restrictions on vaccinated travelers.

Although export, a major engine of the country’s economic growth, continued to expand, such growth might stall during the remainder of this year because of a higher base from last year and the global economic hiccups triggered by the Delta variant outbreak, according to the report.

It expected the country’s export to rise 15 percent this year and continue to expand but at a slower pace of 4.7 percent in 2022 due to higher base in 2021.

The bank expected the economy to expand 0.7 percent in 2021 and forecast that the growth would accelerate to 3.4 percent in 2022 following the progress of vaccination roll-out.

The number of the country’s foreign tourist arrivals is expected to reach 0.17 million this year and rise to 6.3 million in 2022, boosted by vaccination progress both in Thailand and worldwide, according to the report. The number was compared with a peak of nearly 40 million in 2019.

The SCB said the Thai government should consider additional borrowings to support the economic recovery and beef up efforts to restructure the country’s economy.