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 4 Apr 2009

Thai economy seen declining 4% in 2009

The Thai economy could shrink as much as 4 percent in 2009, a senior International Monetary Fund official said on Friday at the end of an IMF mission to the country to conduct an annual economic review.

"Assuming that there are no major shortfalls in policy implementation, and that political stability is maintained, the fall in GDP growth could be contained to a range of between minus 2 and minus 4 percent," mission chief Nissanke Weerasinghe was quoted by Reuters as telling a briefing.

He also said there was scope for further monetary easing.

The Bank of Thailand has cut its benchmark rate by 225 basis points to 1.5 percent since December as the economy has slumped, and is expected to cut by another 25 or 50 basis points at its next policy meeting on April 8.

The finance ministry says the economy could shrink as much as 3 percent this year after a plunge in exports. On Tuesday the Asian Development Bank forecast a contraction of 2 percent in 2009, followed by growth of 3 percent in 2010.

Political instability in Thailand compounded the damage from the global slowdown last year, depressing business confidence and frightening away tourists. After a period of calm, there has been a new wave of anti-government protests in the past week.




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