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14 June 2009

Thailand hopes to offset export drop with rise in consumer spending

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Thailand’s consumer spending has room to improve, helping offset a collapse in exports that has put the economy into a recession, Bloomberg News quoted Bank of Thailand Deputy Governor Bandid Nijathaworn as saying.

“The potential for consumers to spend more is there,” Bandid, 55, said in an interview in Bangkok Friday. Domestic spending will help make the economy “more resilient,” he said.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva earlier said the worst of Thailand’s recession has passed. The government in April began pumping cash into the economy, which contracted 7.1 percent in the first quarter, giving handouts to the nation’s poorest. Exports, the nation’s main economic driver, have shrunk every month since November.

Household savings, limited debt and low interest rates will help fuel consumption, said Bandid, a 17-year veteran at Thailand’s central bank. “But restructuring exports to consumption isn’t going to be an overnight thing.”

Exports, equivalent to about 70 percent of gross domestic product, tumbled 16.4 percent in the first quarter, prompting companies including General Motors and Seagate Technology Inc to cut production and fire workers. Household spending, worth about 26 percent of the economy, shrank 2.6 percent.


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