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Country Forecast Thailand December 2017 Updater

Country Forecast Thailand December 2017 Updater

  • December 2017
  • ID: 359044
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit


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  • The military will seek to preserve the foundational role of the monarchy in Thai politics, in part via the strict enforcement of lese-majesty laws, mainly because its grip on power and long-term political legitimacy depend on royal approval. Nonetheless, the primacy of the monarchy in Thai society will fade gradually in the years to come.
  • A new constitution, which was approved in a referendum in August 2016, will entrench the military's role in future governments and limit the powers of democratically elected politicians. This relatively restrictive form of democracy will nevertheless help to maintain political stability and make for more consistent policymaking in 2018-22. The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the next elections to be held in 2019 at the earliest.
  • Ties with China will strengthen as the junta and the subsequently elected government look to that country for economic support. Thailand will also focus on increased engagement with its neighbours in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), particularly in the area of economic integration.
  • The Bank of Thailand (BOT, the central bank) will look to tighten monetary policy in 2018, partly to narrow the interest-rate differential with the US. This move will not lead to a prolonged tightening cycle, as external-sector uncertainty emanating from China and then the US in 2018-20 will incline the BOT to remain accommodative.
  • We expect real GDP growth to average 3.1% a year in 2018-22. The economy will continue to be supported by strong tourist arrivals throughout the forecast period. Investment will be buoyed by big-ticket public infrastructure projects. Private consumption will remain under pressure owing to still-high household debt levels and lacklustre wage growth.
  • Although consumer price inflation will average around the lower end of the BOT's target range of 1-4% in 2018-22, it will be significantly higher than in 2013-17. As domestic and external demand strengthens and commodity prices rise, inflation in Thailand will average 1.9% a year in 2021-22.
  • The current-account surplus will average the equivalent of 10.1% of GDP in 2018-22. Stronger import growth will reduce the merchandise trade surplus in 2018-20, while the primary income deficit will continue to widen throughout the forecast period. However, a growing surplus on the services account will help to keep the nominal current-account balance relatively stable.

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