Thailand: Everything slows down, except tourism

Roberto Scaramuzza - Linkedin profile

Roberto Scaramuzza – Linkedin profile

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Thailand’s central bank on August 30 reported a lackluster GDP growth of just 2.8% in the second quarter of 2013 on the back of falling consumer spending and a slump in exports.

The country posted the weakest growth among 5 ASEAN economies in the second quarter of the year.

In the same period the grew  of others was:

  • Philippines 7.5%
  • Indonesia 5.8%
  • Vietnam 5%
  • Malaysia 4.3%

Exports fell mainly due to weak global demand by 1.5%, and manufacturing contracted 4.5%. The current-account deficit rose to $709 million in July from $664 million in June.

Investment in July contracted 5.4% year-on-year and 0.2% month-on-month, the Bank of Thailand said in a release. Private consumption in July was down 0.7 per cent from the same period in 2012 and 0.5 per cent from June 2012.

Households were spending less because of higher debt, and car sales dropped after the first-car buyers ended.

Thailand’s currency, the baht, posted its 5th monthly decline, the longest losing streak in 5 years, reflecting heavy outflows of foreign capital from stock and bond markets. The baht has lost 8.8 per cent since the end of March and touched 32.31 on August 28 against the dollar.

However, tourism seem to be the sector where everything still points up.

The industry continued to expand thanks to higher number of arrivals from China, Malaysia and Russia, and the weakening currency that made traveling expenses gradually cheaper.

For example, a small bottle of Singha Beer for 110 baht in dollar terms cost $3.90 in early April while it now costs just $3.40. An average 3-star hotel stay in Sukhumvit area is now up to $20 per night cheaper, and the monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the business district dropped between $80 and $120 when calculated in US dollars.