Thai GDP soars in 3rd quarter of 2017

Alfred Osborne
November 21, 2017

Siam Commercial Bank's Economic Intelligence Center (EIC) said the third quarter's strong economic growth was fuelled by exports, tourism and more active private investment and consumption, clearly confirming Thailand's economic recovery.

The upbeat data out of Thailand followed news last week that Malaysia's manufacturing sector, too, helped buoy a faster-than-expected, 6.2% third-quarter growth rate that was the best in more than three years.

The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said yesterday that Thai GDP rose by 4.3% year-on-year in the July-September period - the strongest growth in 18 quarters - after expanding by 3.8% in the second quarter and 3.3% in the first quarter.

The economy expanded by 3.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent in the first and second quarters respectively.

The country's SET index was up by 0.2 percent to ฿1,714.38 on Monday, following the release of figures.

Growth was also driven by growing demand for Thai manufacturing products from Thailand's major trade partners especially China and Japan. All four economies are projected to slow into the final three months of the year while retaining impressive 2017 growth figures and keeping pace into next year, according to Bloomberg survey data.

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1.5 percent since April 2015.

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Most economists expect no policy change well into 2018, as inflation is benign.

Economist Tim Leelahaphan said that the broad-based rise in exports persisted, despite a strong baht, which has been getting support from healthy macroeconomic factors. A rise in worldwide visitors and a brighter outlook for consumer spending as the mourning period closes for King Bhumibol Adulyadej are set to sustain growth into next year.

Exports of goods and services rose to 7.4 percent on a year to year basis, compared to 6 percent in the previous quarter.

Thai baht gained 0.2 percent against the USA dollar to 0.0305 on Monday.

The agency predicted 2017 GDP growth at 3.9 per cent, compared with a 3.5-4.0 per cent range seen earlier, and it revised up the export outlook to a 8.6 per cent increase from 5.7 per cent. That was before growth was seen heating up even more, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying on November 19 the economy could expand more than 3% this year.

Vimolsiri added that employment and revenue will see better progress as well. The NESDB said Thai GDP is expected to touch 4 percent this year and higher growth momentum is anticipated next year. This is fastest pace of expansion since 2012. "We are confident that growth in Q4 will remain high, making this year's growth outlook at 3.9 per cent and reaching 4 per cent next year".

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