Thailand's growth momentum cools in Q3

BANGKOK • Thailand's economy grew less than expected in the third quarter on slower consumption and government spending but early signs of an export recovery may help put growth on a firmer footing next year.

The central bank is expected to keep monetary policy accommodative through 2017 as South-east Asia's second-largest economy confronts outflow pressures from higher interest rates in the United States, global trade policies and China's slowdown.

Thai exports posted their first annual growth in seven quarters in the July-September period, but analysts said reduced consumer spending in the wake of mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died on Oct 13, was likely to hurt fourth-quarter GDP.

"We think growth in Thailand will slow further in Q4. The passing of (the) king will probably cause some disruption to economic activity in the short term," Ms Krystal Tan, Asia Economist at Capital Economics, said in a report.

The economy grew a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent in the third quarter from the second, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said yesterday. From a year earlier, growth was 3.2 per cent, down from 3.5 per cent in the second quarter.

Annual growth in household consumption slowed to 3.5 per cent in July-September from 3.8 per cent in the prior quarter, while public investment expanded at a slower rate of 6.3 per cent and private investment contracted 0.5 per cent.

NESDB chief Porametee Vimolsiri said the fourth quarter could soften slightly due to slower tourism and last year's high base effect.

The agency expects 3.2 per cent GDP growth this year compared with 3.0-3.5 per cent forecast previously, and said exports would be flat compared with a 1.9 per cent decline earlier.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2016, with the headline 'Thailand's growth momentum cools in Q3'. Print Edition | Subscribe