World Bank: 2014 GDP growth 4%

Thailand’s gross domestic product growth for 2014 is projected at 4% on the back of export expansion, Kirida Phaophichit, a senior economist at the World Bank’s Bangkok office, said on Tuesday.

Exports are forecast to grow by 6% with a total worth of US$238.92 million and imports expected to increase by 5%, worth $229.99 million, for an expected trade surplus of $8.93 million, she said.

However, Thailand would experience a current account deficit of around $1.07 million, or about 0.3% of GCP, she added.

Ms Kirida said risk factors that could derail economic expansion included the high level of household debt and the delays in the government’s investment in its infrastructure development projects.

Political uncertainty is another main negative factor that could hurt the tourism sector, disrupting continuation of policy implementation by the government, which would erode investors’ confidence, she added.

The senior economist suggested that in the long term, the government should give importance to widely distributing its spending across the country to minimise the problems of social inequality.

This could be done by focusing on spending in regions and reducing controls on income distribution from central agencies, and giving local units more responsibility, she said.

Ms Kirida said Thailand’s GDP grew by only 3% last year because of a slowdown in exports, household consumption and private investment and the delays in government spending.

However, the tourism sector posted a historic expansion of 20% in 2013 over 2012, and was a major factor in boosting economic growth last year, she said.

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