BANGKOK: Thailand's economic growth will be subdued this year due to the impacts of the pandemic, but it could reach 5 to 6 per cent in 2022 if there are no fresh outbreaks, its deputy prime minister said on Wednesday (Nov 3).
The Southeast Asian nation's most prolonged epidemic has eased, leading to a relaxing of restrictions and reopening to more foreign visitors to reboot the key tourism sector.
The country is past the worst, while fiscal and financial stability remains sound, Supattanapong Punmeechaow, who is in charge of economic matters, told a business seminar.
Thailand is moving to its goal of a 70 per cent vaccination rate by year-end, while sustaining manufacturing to support exports, a key driver of growth, he said.
The economy will also get support from 600 billion baht (US$18 billion) of investment pledges expected this year, and a government scheme to attract 1 million long-term foreigners over the next five years with spending of 1 billion baht, he said.
In 2019, nearly 40 million foreign tourists spent 1.91 trillion baht (US$57 billion). The finance ministry predicts just 180,000 foreign arrivals this year, with 100,000 in the fourth quarter.
On Wednesday, a joint business group of industry, banking and commerce raised its 2021 economic growth outlook to 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent from zero to 1 per cent growth due to the reopening.
"The economy started to recover but not fast ... importantly, positive momentum must continue, no on-and off closures," group chairman Sanan Angubolkul, also head of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, told a briefing. He earlier predicted 600,000 foreign arrivals in November and December.