When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Thailand in the first half of 2020, forcing the government to impose lockdowns and travel bans that effectively killed the crucial tourism industry, many economists foresaw a contraction of 10% or more for the year, the Asia Times reported. But Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank just 6.1% in 2020, painful but not as bad as expected with the loss of the kingdom’s US$60 billion tourism industry, which normally accounts for around 18% of GDP.
Thailand’s central bank held its benchmark rate unchanged on Wednesday, signaling a need to preserve policy space as the country grapples with its biggest wave of Covid cases and a weakening outlook for the tourism-reliant economy, Bloomberg News reported. The Bank of Thailand’s rate setting committee unanimously decided to hold rates at a record low of 0.5% for a ninth straight meeting, as expected by all 25 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The committee “stands ready to use limited policy space at the most-effective timing,” Bank of Thailand Assistant Governor Titanun Mallikamas said.