Originally aired on Channel NewsAsia on February 18, 2018
Thailand’s economy new by 4.0 per cent in the last quarter of 2017, which is less than expected but still pretty good. Now, the officials and experts have estimated that the economy might have grown by 4.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2017, but in reality it’s less than expected.
Overall, the GDP for the 2017 as a whole year is at 3.9, which is actually the best growth rate since 2012 and definitely the best rate for the Thai military government ever since they have taken over power in a military coup in 2014 - but then again, anything is better when you start at almost zero back in 2014 after months of sustained anti-government protests and political violence.
Now, what are the big portfolios boosting Thailand’s economy? It’s almost a deja vu here, because every time we’ve been talking about Thailand’s economic growth in the past few quarters, it’s always the same winners and losers.
Tourism and export are definitely those portfolios that are sustaining the economic growth. Exports have grown 13 per cent year on year, confirming an upwards trend and also tourism as well. That is the biggest juggernaught, actually.
Last year in 2017, we had a record number of visitors: 34 million people have come here to the Land of Smiles to see the sights and sounds. And just last week during Chinese New Years, it was estimated that 300.000 tourists from China alone would come here. So that already gives you an idea where most of the tourists come from.
Then on the other hand, private investment is still lacking. Public investment, as well, has gone down now that the government has spend all that money in infrastructure - $46 billion, I might add.
And going forward - now, there are still the same problems as well, talking about that deja vu: there’s still few private investment as we mentioned before, and the economic growth is not broad enough, meaning that it doesn’t down to everybody, especially those in the lower-income sector.
For 2018, the question will be for Thailand’s economy is: Is this as good as it gets or is the best still yet to come?