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Thai central bank sees exports on upward trend this year

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A recovery in the global economy could spur growth in Thailand's exports this year, beating a central bank forecast of zero growth in 2017, a central bank official said on Thursday.

[BANGKOK] A recovery in the global economy could spur growth in Thailand's exports this year, beating a central bank forecast of zero growth in 2017, a central bank official said on Thursday.

But the bank will wait to see the new trade policies of US president-elect Donald Trump and Thai export data in coming months before it makes a revision in March, said the official, Don Nakornthab.

"The worst should be over and exports are likely to be on an upward trend going forward," Mr Don, a senior director of the central bank's macroeconomic and monetary policy department, told reporters.

"It will be difficult to see double-digit growth in exports, but it's possible that they will be better than our forecast this year."

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Exports, a main driver of Thailand's growth, have long been sluggish, due to tepid global demand and domestic structural problems. Last month, the central bank forecast 2016 exports to contract for the fourth straight year, by 0.6 per cent.

Widespread flooding in southern Thailand might have slight impact on gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, Mr Don added, but it would not affect the central bank's forecast of 3.2 per cent growth in GDP for full-year 2017.

The finance ministry this week said flooding would cost the economy about 15 billion baht (S$606.12 million) as the affected areas are mainly farmland, rather than industrial sites, according to Kobsak Pootrakool, a vice-minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

REUTERS

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