Thailand lowers 2024 GDP growth projection to 2.8%

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Kitiphong Thaichareon

BANGKOK (Reuters) -Thailand’s economy is expected to grow 2.8% this year, a sharp downgrade from an earlier forecast of 3.2%, the finance ministry said on Tuesday, bolstering the government’s push for stimulus to revive an economy it says is in “crisis”.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expansion last year was also down significantly, seen by the ministry at just 1.8%, compared to 2.7% seen earlier. The economy expanded 2.6% in 2022 and 1.5% in the July-September quarter of 2023 from a year earlier.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who is also finance minister, is eager to revive Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy with an injection of 500 billion baht ($14.05 billion) this year by transferring 10,000 baht ($281) to 50 million Thais to spend within six months.

The government is also seeking to boost tourism, a key economic driver, in a move to offset weakness in exports, another crucial sector, which was projected to contract 1.5% last year.

The finance ministry sees foreign arrivals in 2024 at 33.5 million, down slightly from a previous expectation of 34.5 million, and forecast exports growing 4.2% this year, from an earlier forecast of 4.4%.

The economy is expected to grow faster than last year due to higher exports, services and tourism arrivals, the ministry said in a statement.

Separately, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected growth of 2.5% in 2023, lower than its November projection of 2.7% expansion, but saw 2024 growth at 4.4%, above the 3.6% forecast in November.

“Growth is projected to accelerate briefly in 2024, on account of improvements in external demand and robust growth in private consumption bolstered by the government’s fiscal stimulus,” it said in a Jan. 22 statement.

($1 = 35.5900 baht)

(Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon and Chayut Setboonsarng, Edited by Kanupriya Kapoor, Martin Petty and Michael Perry)