Thailand’s economic growth trails Asian rivals

Chandi Dharmaratne

BANGKOK, Sept 5, 2006 (AFP) – Political turmoil and flagging exports have resulted in Thailand trailing its Asian rivals in economic growth, Fitch Ratings reported Monday.

The international financial agency revised down the kingdom’s growth forecast from 5.0 percent to 4.3 percent for 2006, saying that political uncertainties had caused Thailand to “lose a year” fiscally.

Fitch put average Asian growth at 5.4 percent for this year, with Vietnam forecast to grow by 7.8 percent, followed by Singapore at 7.0 percent and Indonesia and Malaysia expected to report 5.2 percent gains.

Fitch also estimated growth of only 4.6 percent for 2007, still below the forecast Asian average of 5.1 percent.

“The (political) turmoil has caused private investments and consumer confidence to slide quite badly,” said James McCormack, head of Fitch’s Asia Sovereign Rating Department, adding that this “reflected the negative impacts the political situation caused to the Thai economy”, he said.

Thailand is set to go to the polls again in October after elections held earlier this year to elect a new government were declared invalid amid a standoff between Prime Minister