BANGKOK: Thailand’s economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter supported by a pickup in agriculture and an easing of COVID-19 curbs, but higher inflation remained a drag on a fragile recovery.
The government cut its 2022 economic growth forecast to 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent from 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent, due to higher prices and slower global growth linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Last year’s expansion was revised to 1.5 per cent from 1.6 per cent, among the slowest growth rates in the region.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy expanded a seasonally adjusted 1.1 per cent in the March quarter from the previous three months, data from the National Economic and Social Development Council showed, versus a forecast 0.9 per cent increase in a Reuters poll.
On a yearly basis, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.2 per cent in January-March, beating a forecast 2.1 per cent rise, and after revised 1.8 per cent growth in the previous three months.
The economy this year will be supported by increased exports, domestic demand and a recovery in tourism, NESDC head Danucha Pichayanan told a news conference.
The agency expects inflation of 4.2 per cent to 5.2 per cent this year, up from 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent projected previously, while exports were seen up 7.3 per cent this year versus a 4.9 per cent increase projected earlier
It expects 7 million foreign tourist arrivals this year, versus 5.5 million seen previously, after travel restrictions were eased to help revive the crucial sector, which normally accounts for about 12 per cent of Thai GDP.
However, the numbers are still far below 40 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2019, before the pandemic.