BANGKOK: Thailand's joint business group on Wednesday (May 19) reduced its 2021 economic growth forecast again to 0.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent, from 1.5 per cent to 3.0 per cent, as a third wave of COVID-19 infections slowed an already sluggish economic recovery, despite increased exports.
The tourism-reliant country's latest outbreak has seen infections nearly quadruple and deaths rise six fold since it started last month, following a year of success in curbing earlier outbreaks.
"The April outbreak is likely to be more severe than earlier expected and affecting domestic activity for more than three months," Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the joint-business group of industry, banking and commerce, told a briefing.
Accelerating the distribution of vaccines will be crucial to the economic recovery, along with the government's new borrowing of 700 billion baht (US$22.3 billion) approved on Tuesday to mitigate the outbreak impact, he said.
The group, however, raised its export growth forecast to 5 to 7 per cent this year from 4 to 6 per cent as global demand improved, Supant said.
Southeast Asia's second-largest economy shrank 6.1 per cent last year, the deepest slump in over two decades, as tourism tumbled.