Thai economy grows 5.8 pct in the fourth quarter last year

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Thailand’s national planning agency yesterday announced that the country’s economy grew 5.8 percent in the last quarter of last year, compared with the same period of 2008, after a prolonged contraction during three previous quarters.

According to Dr. Ampon Kittiampon, secretary-general of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), the overall economy for the entire 2009 however still contracted 2.3 percent as a result from the contraction of 7.1, 4.9 and 2.7 percent in the first three quarters of the year, when compared with the corresponding periods in 2008.

The NESDB, he said, expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010 to grow 3.5-4.5 percent, up from 3-4 percent earlier projected in November last year, as household consumption, private investment and exports are expected to continue improving  due to global economic recovery.

Among the supporting factors for the economic growth in last year’s fourth quarter are rising exports, manufacturing production expansion, and the growth in the number of tourists, Dr. Ampon said.

During the quarter, he said, the export values in US dollars rose for the first time in 2009 by 12.2 percent, with 7.4 percent rise of vehicles and equipments, 14.1 percent gain in computers and 40.5 percent growth of integrated circuits.

Moreover, the exports to new markets of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India picked up by 54.2, 23.8, 27.3 and 20.4 percent respectively while those to the major markets increased by 4.5 and 18.3 percent in the US and Asian market respectively.

The quarter’s manufacturing production expanded by 9.9 percent from the last quarter as the global and domestic economic recoveries fueled the manufacturing production for exports and that for domestic consumption to grow at 22.9 and 7.5 percent respectively. The industries with notable expansion are food, rubber and rubber products, metal and metal products, vehicles and equipments, and electronic equipments.

The manufacturing capacity utilization during the quarter stood at 67.2 percent, compared to 58.1, 59.2, and 62.5 percent in the first three quarters.

Meanwhile, the country’s tourism revived considerably, mainly due to the global economic recovery and the improvement in domestic political situation which apparently improved the confidence of foreign tourists’ toward Thailand.

In December 2009, the number of tourists grew by 40.8 percent to 1.63 million, the highest of the year, and the total number of tourists in the fourth quarter was recorded at 4.2 million, an increase of 26.2 percent from the same period of the previous year.

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