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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        1  February 2011

Exports, tourism drive Thai economy

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Exports and record-high tourist arrivals spurred the economy in December, while domestic demand moderated due to base effects, says the Bank of Thailand.

Exports amounted to US$17.2 billion, 19 percent year-on-year growth, driven mainly by a rise in the prices of cassava and rubber.

Meanwhile exports of electronics components slowed from 2009 because of inventory stockpiles, which resulted in a high base.

Tourist arrivals hit 1.8 million, mostly from China, South Asia and Russia. Hotel occupancy rose to 58 percent from 55 percent on November 10, the central bank said.

Mathee Supapongse, senior director for the Domestic Economy Department, said decelerating orders for key electronics goods like hard disk drives resulted from decreased demand from China to serve consumers in the US.

But he said domestic demand was thrusting automobile manufacturing forward due to the popularity of eco-cars.

Capital use in the industrial sector recorded a small increase from November to 64.4 percent. Strong consumer confidence and held-up lending growth could point to expanding private investment in the near future.

The manufacturing sector had steady expansion last year, despite political unrest, flooding and baht appreciation, he said.

Private consumption in December was stable from the previous month and bolstered by farm income. Passenger car sales reached a record high of 41,430 with the Motor Expo recording 33,000 orders, leading to expectations of strong sales over the next few months.

"Domestic demand is expected to hold up in the future, although growth may slow from last year. Domestic will contribute more toward growth this year, as exports wobble in line with world demand," Mr. Mathee said.

Imports totaled US$16 billion, a 10 percent year-on-year contraction, because of the high base last year due to oil imports.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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