Thailand’s economic growth slows to 5-year low

Thailand’s economy grew at its slowest pace in five years in the fourth quarter, dragged down by lower government spending and exports despite relatively steady private consumption.

Gross domestic product expanded 1.6% in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, compared with the 2.6% growth in the previous three months, the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, the government’s economic-planning arm, said Monday.

That fell short of the median forecast of a 2.0% expansion in the fourth quarter by five economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

The government said the economy expanded 2.4% in 2019 after having grown 4.2% in 2018 and projected the economy to grow 1.5%-2.5% in 2020, slower than the previous forecast of a 2.7%-3.7% expansion.

The continuing coronavirus outbreak will likely drag the economy in the near term, affecting especially the tourism and manufacturing industries, economists said.

The fourth-quarter growth was the slowest since the third quarter of 2014 and the rate of expansion in 2019 was the slowest since 2014.

Thailand’s GDP grew 0.2% over the previous three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, undershooting the economists’ forecast of 0.3% growth.

Government spending fell 0.9% from a year earlier, compared with the 1.7% increase in the third quarter, and public investment fell 5.1% after rising 3.7% in the previous quarter. Private investment rose 2.6% after the third quarter’s 2.3% increase.

Exports of goods and services contracted 3.6%, compared with a 0.6% increase in the third quarter, the data showed.

Private consumption, which accounts for about half of the Thai economy, increased 4.1%, compared with a 4.3% gain in the third quarter.

Write to Kosaku Narioka at [email protected]

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