Thai economy at bottom of regional recovery table, World Bank says

Thailand stood as one of the slowest economies to recover from Covid-19 crisis in the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region, worsened by the Delta variant, the World Bank said Tuesday, with a further cut in 2021 economic growth forecast to 1 per cent.

“The Thai economy will likely require a longer time to rebound owing to delay in foreign tourist return,” said the Bank’s senior economist for the country Kiatipong Ariyapruchya. 

This latest figure was lowered from the previous one in July at 2.2 per cent, while 2022 is set to see 3.6-per-cent growth.

“The uneven recovery in the EAP region is now facing a setback,” said the bank’s report. Economies of Thailand, the Philippines, and many Pacific Islands will remain below pre-covid levels even in 2023. Myanmar will be the slowest country in recovering in light of the military coup earlier this year.

“Accelerated vaccination and testing to control Covid-19 infections could revive economic activity in struggling countries as early as the first half of 2022,” said Aaditya Mattoo, the Bank’s chief economist for the region.

However, “in the longer term, only deeper reforms can prevent slower growth and increasing inequality, an impoverishing combination the region has not seen this century,” he noted. 

One of the crucial reforms needed is education, the report said, as many countries including Thailand already faced learning crises with poor educational outcomes and school closures amid the outbreak.

On Monday, the Thai government announced it would waive Covid-19 quarantine for vaccinated travellers in Bangkok and other nine provinces from November 1, in hopes to revive its battered tourism-reliant economy which onced recorded 40 million arrivals pre-Covid.

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