Assessments

Thailand's Economic Outlook Goes From Bad to Worse

Feb 14, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
A bank teller counts Thai bhat before handing it to a customer in Bangkok.

A bank teller in Bangkok counts out Thai bhat, which was Asia's strongest currency in 2019. The baht's strength has hurt Thailand's economic growth over the past year by making its exports less competitive.

(PAULA BRONSTEIN/Getty Images)

Less than a year into its transition out of direct military rule, Thailand has found itself steeped in mounting economic and political risks. The recent coronavirus outbreak in nearby China has already taken a toll on the country's vital tourism sector, and the virus' still unknown damage to Chinese economic growth risk cutting even deeper into Thai exports amid dampened global trade demand. But even before the outbreak, Thailand's strong baht was hindering growth by deterring tourists to lower-cost destinations and making its exports less competitive. Meanwhile, the country's unwieldy military-aligned ruling coalition is fending off an increasingly desperate opposition seeking to make inroads wherever it can, which will constrain Bangkok's ability to implement the big-ticket infrastructure projects needed to spur growth and ultimately weather the storm....

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