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Forecasts are in negative territory for south east and wider Asia

The Thaiger

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Forecasts are in negative territory for south east and wider Asia | The Thaiger
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PHOTO: asiahouse.org

The Asian Development Bank has trimmed its forecasts for economic growth in developing Asia this year and next as growth in the People’s Republic of China and India are weighed down by both external and domestic factors.

Closer to home, south east Asia’s growth projections have also been revised down slightly to 4.4% for 2019. Economic woes of Thailand and Singapore, two of the region’s largest economies, have prompted downward adjustments to their growth forecasts, for the rest of this year and next.

In a supplement to its Asian Development Outlook 2019 Update released three months ago, the ADB now expects GDP in the region to expand 5.2% in both 2019 and 2020, just a tad down from the September forecast of 5.4% growth this year and 5.5% next year.

Thailand’s economy expanded by only 2.5% in the first nine months of 2019 as growth moderated for private consumption and for public consumption and investment. Weaker trade also dragged on growth, with export declines in both agriculture and manufacturing. Imports also went backwards in line with weaker domestic demand.

Growth forecasts for East Asia are downgraded to 5.4% in 2019 and 5.2% in 2020 as the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea endure continuing trade tensions and slowing domestic investment. The same in Hong Kong where political unrest is an added factor.

Growth projections for South Asia are lowered to 5.1% in 2019 and 6.1% in 2020. Growth in India is expected to slow to 5.1% in 2019. Also, consumption in India affected by slow job growth and rural distress aggravated by poor harvest. Policy support will help growth recover to 6.5% in 2020.

On the up side, growth could accelerate around the region if the US and the PRC can sort out an agreement on trade, the report says.

Hong Kong is already in technical recession and is predicted to see severe downward pressures persist possibly into 2020. The economy is now expected to contract 1.2% this year and grow only 0.3% next year.

In south east Asia, many countries are seeing continued export declines and weaker investment, and growth forecasts have been downgraded for Singapore and Thailand. GDP growth is expected to slow in the Pacific with activity in Fiji, the subregion’s second largest economy after Papua New Guinea, expected to be more subdued than previously anticipated.

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Tourism

4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry

Caitlin Ashworth

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4 years until tourism industry gets back to pre-pandemic levels – Finance Ministry | The Thaiger

It could take 4 years for Thailand’s tourism industry to recover after being battered by the lack of travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s reaction and the economic fallout, according to the Finance Ministry.

While local and international experts project Thailand’s economy will continue to recover over the next 2 years, the tourism industry, which directly contributes 12-15% of the country’s GDP, is forecasted to take at least 4 years to get back to the pre-pandemic level, if ever. Last year, Thailand had nearly 40 million foreign tourist arrivals, generating 2 trillion baht.

Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith says he expects 8 million foreign tourists to arrive in 2021, followed by 16 million in 2022, 32 million in 2023 and 40 million in 2024. But the projections are just broad speculation.

No foreign tourists entered the country between April and September this year. In October, 1,201 foreign tourists were issued Special Tourist Visas for 90 day stays that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months in total. Under the current arrangements there will only be a trickle of tourists coming under the current regime including 14 day quarantine, at the tourist’s expense, and lots of paperwork and red tape.

IF Thailand does end up. with 8 million foreign tourist arrivals next year, and the cash subsidy scheme is extended, the country’s GDP is expected to expand by 4% to 4.5%, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Economists say new local Covid-19 cases could slow tourism recovery

Caitlin Ashworth

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Economists say new local Covid-19 cases could slow tourism recovery | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Some are concerned about a potential second coronavirus outbreak after 10 Thai women tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from Myanmar’s Tachileik district. Some travelled to Bangkok and Chiang Mai after returning.

A second wave of infections will stall the recovery of domestic tourism and Thailand’s overall economy that has been battered by the pandemic, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council, or NESDC.

Since some cases were reported in the tourism dependent provinces Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, the council is concerned that the recent infections could slow down domestic tourism, according to the council’s secretary general, Danucha Pichayanan. After the first cases were reported in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai earlier this week, many people who planned to visit the provinces cancelled their accommodation bookings, Danucha says.

“Containing the spread is a priority for the government… Effective controls for the second wave are crucial for the country’s overall economic recovery.”

When the pandemic started to affect the global economy in the first quarter of the year, GDP dropped by 2% year-on-year. GDP then plunged by 12.1% in the second quarter of the year, the biggest drop since the Asian financial crisis from 1997 to 1999. The economy improved in the third quarter with GDP contracting by 6.4% year-on-year.

With hopes that a Covid-19 vaccine will be widely available by mid-2021, NESDC predicts the economy will expand by 3.5% to 4.5%.

“That is not a certainty. Everything is uncertain. The government and the NESDC need to monitor all variables.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Economy

Cabinet approves extension, upgrade of stimulus measures, welfare payments

Maya Taylor

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Cabinet approves extension, upgrade of stimulus measures, welfare payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The government has given the green light to the extension and refinement of a number of economic stimulus schemes and welfare payments. 43.5 billion baht has been set aside to fund an extension of the current co-payment scheme and the welfare card program. It’s understood 22.5 billion baht will go to phase 2 of the co-payment scheme, with 21 billion earmarked for the welfare card program.

Danucha Pichayanan from the National Economic and Social Development Council says an additional 5 million people are expected to benefit from phase 2 of the co-payment scheme, which will run from January to March next year. There are currently over 890,000 small businesses registered with the scheme, in which the government subsidises 50% of the cost of food, drink, and other products, up to a maximum of 150 baht per person per day, capped at 3,000 baht per person for the duration of the campaign. From January, that maximum will be increased from 3,000 to 3,500 baht per person, meaning the 10 million people currently registered for the campaign will receive an additional 500 baht.

Additionally, the Centre for Economic Situation Administration has agreed to extend the 500 baht monthly payment to welfare cardholders on low incomes for a further 3 months from January.

Meanwhile, the domestic tourism stimulus scheme is set to be extended until April 30 next year and is getting a bit of an upgrade too. Yuthasak Supasorn from the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the maximum number of hotel nights subsidised under the scheme is being increased from 10 to 15. Air fare subsides are being increased from 2,000 to 3,000 baht, for passengers flying to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Songkhla, and Surat Thani. The scheme also provides subsidies for spa visits, and car and boat hire, as well as food.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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