Thailand's economy rebounds 2.2 percent in first quarter

Foreign tourists walk along the popular Khaosan Road in Bangkok on May 17, 2022.

Bangkok, Thailand | Thailand's economy grew 2.2 percent in the first quarter following an export and tourism boost after the relaxation of pandemic entry restrictions, the kingdom's main economic agency said Tuesday.

During the pandemic, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy suffered its worst economic performance since the 1997 Asian financial crisis with visitor numbers crashing from roughly 40 million annually.

However in April the government announced the end of compulsory on-arrival Covid-19 tests for vaccinated travellers, as well as the requirement that foreign arrivals wait in a hotel room for the results.

"The export sector is good... the tourism industry is getting better due to the relaxation of entry requirements for tourists," National Economic and Social Development Council secretary general Danucha Pichayanan said.

The agency said global market volatility from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as well as a slowdown in China's economy thanks to city-wide virus lockdowns, was affecting the pace of the kingdom's economic recovery.

Ukraine is a key exporter of fertiliser and the war has reduced supply in Thailand.

The Thai government has sought to ease the shortage by sourcing fertiliser from Saudi Arabia.

The agency also raised its inflation forecasts this year to between 4.2-5.2 percent up from the earlier range of 1.5-2.5 percent.

Danucha attributed the inflation increase to rising energy prices.

The country has a weekly average of more than 6,500 daily new coronavirus infections, although testing is limited.

© Agence France-Presse

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