Thailand: Political turmoil blamed for GDP losses

  • Thailand’s political uncertainty over the past 20 years took a toll on the country’s economic growth, shaving off 0.4 percentage points per year on average and depressing growth below its potential, according to a joint survey by the Bank of Thailand’s Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research (Pier), Chulalongkorn University’s economics faculty and the development economics school at National Institute of Development Administration (Nida).
  • Even though Thailand has been peaceful after the May 14 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), uncertainties concerning political reform and a new general election have remained and are increasing, said Pongsak Luangaram, assistant professor in economics at Chulalongkorn University.
  • Yutthana Sethapramote, professor at Nida’s School of Development Economics, said the economic impact of 0.4 percentage points per year on the country’s economic expansion over the past 20 years stemmed from political uncertainties beginning from political rallies, dissolution of parliament, new general elections and political reform.
  • Over the past two decades, political instability delivered the hardest blow to private investment by taking 1.5 percentage points per year on average away from the country’s private investment growth.
  • “Thailand’s economy has the potential to grow at 4% and private investment growth should be at least 6%. Economic growth is above 4%, but private investment growth is still below GDP growth. Political uncertainties due mainly to political reform could be the key negative factor that dampens private investment,” he said.
  • These negative factors largely dent investment demand for four industries – hotels, construction, real estate, and transport, said Mr Yutthana.
  • Political conflict hurts the economy, but recovery is quick, while political reform requires longer time in terms of both impact and rebound. The impact from political uncertainties on the capital market is faster than uncertainty from political reform,” he said.

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