Thai Q1 economic growth likely muted as exports, demand falter – Reuters poll

Thai economic growth in the first quarter of this year is expected to be lackluster, according to a Reuters poll of economists. Despite a solid number of tourist arrivals, weak exports and domestic demand have hindered growth. Private consumption has been dampened by high household debt and borrowing costs, while customs-based exports experienced a decline in March, the first since July 2023. Although the government plans to implement a stimulus policy called the “digital wallet” cash handout, which is expected to boost the economy, the growth forecast for the January-March quarter is 0.8% year-on-year, slower than the previous quarter’s 1.7%. While it is likely that Thailand will avoid a technical recession in Q1, quarter-on-quarter GDP growth is still expected to be soft. The exhaustion of pent-up consumer demand post-pandemic, coupled with high household debt, has contributed to the subdued growth. Economists suggest that Thailand should learn from Vietnam’s success in securing major free trade agreements with global economic powerhouses.