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Thailand sees latest stimulus stoking spending

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Baht strength and weakening global trade have taken their toll on Thai exports and tourism, which are both key economic engines.

Bangkok

THAILAND said its latest round of stimulus will spur more than 100 billion baht (S$4.5 billion) of spending, as it steps up efforts to fight an economic slowdown caused by baht strength and the US-China trade war.

"The measures are to help sustain the economy amid global uncertainty," Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said in a briefing on Tuesday in Bangkok, adding he hoped the boost will be felt for the rest of this year and in 2020.

Baht strength and weakening global trade have taken their toll on Thai exports and tourism, which are both key economic engines. The latest stimulus adds to a package of steps worth more than US$10 billion that was approved in August.

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The new measures were given the green light on Tuesday in the weekly Cabinet meeting.

The details include 50 billion baht of loans from a state lender for village funds, farmer groups and cooperatives. Another 14.3 billion baht of funds will be allocated to village funds to support small-scale investment.

Farmers will also receive 28 billion baht of help with harvest costs, while as much as five billion baht will be available for cash-back on housing down-payments.

Thailand's national economic council predicts 2.6 per cent gross domestic product growth this year, which would be the slowest pace in five years.

Thai expansion continues to lag behind neighbours such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Tangled politics have forced a delay in some of the government's annual budget spending, adding to the country's challenges.

The Bank of Thailand has cut borrowing cost twice in 2019 and tried to curb currency appreciation to bolster the outlook. BLOOMBERG