TDRI says Thai economy could shrink by 10 per cent with 9.7 million workers to lose jobs

The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) reports that the impact of COVID-19 could force the Thai economy to contract by 10 per cent in 2020, leaving it unable to rebound to pre-COVID levels until 2023.

According to the report, the earliest planned completion date for COVID-19 vaccines is September 2021. 

The increase in household debt and the decrease in income and savings have led to the fall of household consumption and private investment, the latter of which is already shrinking due to rising non-performing loans (NPLs).

The nation-wide lockdown could force 9.7 million people into unemployment. The most affected occupations would be retailers, cooks, waiters, hairdressers, tour guides and other low-skilled workers. 

A local news media reported on Friday that the Facebook page ‘แรงงานเพื่อสังคม’ posted a gallery of workers gathering in front of the underwear factory in Nakorn Sawan. 

The Facebook post stated that the factory decided to close its business causing around 800 employees to lose their jobs without any further announcement. 

It is reported that the factory had temporarily closed its operation due to the COVID-19 outbreak but all the workers were due to resume their jobs on Friday.

The TDRI report indicated that the lower global purchasing power and higher trade barriers are continuing to cause more economic contraction. 

The link between global trade growth and economic growth will be weaker. Thai export growth would be unlikely to reach 5 per cent in the post-COVID situation.

Thai agricultural households could lose their income due to the recession and the severe drought that impacted the first half of 2020.

Rice production could fall by a further 6-7 per cent while sugarcane is expected to have a 40 per cent slump.

Tourism 

Domestic tourism could start recovering in the third quarter of 2020 with help from the government’s 22.4 billion baht stimulus.

However, international tourism would only slowly begin to improve at the end of 2020 as it focuses on selected business and medical travellers. 

TDRI expects foreign tourists, who have received vaccinations for COVID-19, to come to Thailand in 2022, but it would take until 2023 for a full recovery. 

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