THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) is bullish on the prospects for Thailand and plans to upgrade its growth forecasts for the economy next month.
The ADB also plans to provide loans worth US$1.59 billion (Bt52 billion) to support government infrastructure projects, mostly in the transport sector, between 2018 and 2020.
“The Thai economy is likely to grow more than the 3.6 per cent that was estimated earlier by the ADB,” Luxmon Attapich, the ADB’s senior country economist, said yesterday.
Details of the new economic projections would be made available in early December, she said.
Higher than expected growth in exports is the main factor prompting the bank to review its economic forecast.
The country’s exports have continued to expand at a high rate due to a recovery in the global economy.
Exports grew 13.1 per cent year on year in US dollar terms in October, and the Commerce Ministry expects growth in overseas shipments for this year to come in at between 9 and 10 per cent.
Kasikorn Research Centre has upgraded its forecast for export growth to 9 per cent, from 7 per cent previously. Exports from January to October rose 9.7 per cent year on year, according to the Commerce Ministry.
The National Economic and Social Development Board, a state planning agency, this week upgraded its estimate for gross domestic product growth for this year to 3.9 per cent, from the 3.7 per cent forecast previously.
“I think Thailand’s exports will continue to expand next year as the global recovery is expected to continue,” said Luxmon.
Public investment would also push up growth for this year and next year, she said.
If the government were to implement some of the large infrastructure projects planned, including in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), this would help to further propel the economy next year too, Luxmon said.
Hideaki Iwasaki, the ADB’s country director for Thailand, said that regarding to public investment, the ADB has five projects in the pipeline to support the government financially to the tune of US$1.59 billion between 2018 and 2020.
For 2018, these projects are aimed at helping Thailand to enhance its industrial innovation and Bangkok’s urban transport network, with the South Purple mass transit line.
For 2019, there are also Bangkok transport developments marked in – the West Orange rail line and airport improvements.
For 2020, the ADB plans to support national railway improvements.
Iwasaki said Thailand has made progress in infrastructure development and also provides assistance to neighbouring countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
He was optimistic on Thailand’s economic outlook as well as for the Asean economy as a whole, as the region has the fastest economic growth rate in the world. The ADB has also provided support to the Thai government for public-private partnership (PPP) projects, and is looking forward to involvement in the development of the EEC and assistance with the Thailand 4.0 technology policy, he said.
Oranuch Jetwattana, a senior project manager of ADB’s Bangkok office, said a plan to lend funds to the Science and Technology Ministry’s programme for enhancing industrial innovation may contribute to progress with the EEC and the Thailand 4.0 vision.
Iwasaki said that over the next three years the ADB would provide technical assistance to Thailand. Since 1966, the bank has approved US$6.79 billion for 278 loans, grants, and technical assistance projects to the country.