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Thai Q1 GDP growth beats forecast

Thai Q1 GDP growth beats forecast © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tourists shop for street foods ahead of Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok’s Chinatown, Thailand, January 19, 2023. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s economy expanded faster than expected in the first quarter, official data showed on Monday, helped by a rebound in private consumption and tourism which will help counter a slowdown in exports.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy grew 2.7% in the January-March period from a year earlier, data from the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) showed.

Economists in a Reuters poll had expected gross domestic product (GDP) to expand 2.3% year-on-year in the January-March period after increasing 1.4% in the previous three months.

On a quarterly basis, GDP rose a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in the March quarter, versus a forecast rise of 1.7%.

Fourth quarter GDP in 2022 was revised to a 1.1% contraction, from a earlier 1.5% fall.

The tourism-reliant economy’s recovery has lagged its regional peers due to the pandemic, but turned a corner as Chinese tourists returned in recent months boosting employment and domestic demand.

The revival of the vital tourism sector will help to offset the impact from declining exports.

The NESDC kept its 2023 GDP growth forecast at 2.7% to 3.7%. The economy grew 2.6% in 2022.

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