BANGKOK– The COVID-19 epidemic and the drought have been major economic drawbacks, causing a slowdown in the Thai economy. The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce’s (UTCC) Center for Economic and Business Forecasting’s (CEBF) latest TCC Confidence Index for February 2020 has fallen to 44.9, from 45.4 in January, the lowest figure in 27 months.
The lower score reflects the negative impacts from COVID-19 on tourism and service businesses, which in turn slowed domestic consumption. The drought disaster is also affecting farmers nationwide, reducing their farming areas and expected yields.
Despite these setbacks, the Thai economy is receiving a boost from a 3.36 percent expansion in exports in January, as well as a 0.9 baht per liter reduction in the price of diesel oil.
The private sector is urging the government to strengthen its measures to control the spread of COVID-19, encourage the general public to spend more and to travel domestically to help boost the economy, while ensuring a sufficient water supply for farming.
The UTCC President Thanawat Polvichai said COVID-19 is likely to cause 500 billion baht in damage to the Thai economy, while the government’s 100-billion-baht aid measures will only help the economy in the short-term.
He said the government must introduce long-term economic measures, as the spread of this virus is estimated to have long-term impacts on the economy