Thailand cuts GDP growth forecast

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    BANGKOK- Thailand’s finance ministry cut its 2019 economic growth forecast to 2.8 percent from 3.0 percent projected in August, dragged lower by declining exports.

    The ministry expects its 2019 exports, a key driver of growth, to decline 2.5 percent compared with an earlier estimate of 0.9 percent drop, Lavaron Sangsnit, head of the finance ministry’s fiscal policy office, told a briefing.

    “This year’s slowdown is mainly because of external factors, but the government has tried to help the economy grow as much as possible,” he said.

    The government in August introduced a $10 billion package to boost domestic activity and also approved additional stimulus last week.

    Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy grew just 2.3 percent in April-June, the weakest annual pace in nearly five years.

    However, the ministry expects second-half growth to be 3.1 percent year-on-year, after 2.6 percent in the first, Lavaron said.

    For 2020, the ministry forecast the country’s economic growth at 3.3 percent, with exports rising 2.6 percent. Last year, the economy expanded 4.1 percent, but lagged most regional peers.

    Next year’s growth should also be supported by higher government investment spending, with the new budget plan expected to start early next year.

    Tourism will also be a key driver, with foreign tourist arrivals expected at 39.8 million this year and rising to 41.5 million by next year, Lavaron said. – Reuters

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