BankThai Plc has raised the countryís economic growth
estimate for 2003 to 3.9 percent from an earlier projection of 3.7 percent.
Dr. Anusorn Thammajai, senior vice president of the bankís Research and
Planning Division, said the bank believes the higher projection was
realistic if the global economic situation remains stable. He added that
should the world economy expand at the rate of 3.7 percent, the Thai economy
could likely to grow 4.6 percent.
Dr. Anusorn projected that consumption, service and
investment will play a key role in driving the continued economic growth in
through the year 2003. In his view, deflation should be ruled out in the
next six months.
The property, construction, tourism, automobile, precious
stone and ornament industries are predicted to see continued growth and
external economic stability is thought to improve unless war between the
United States and Iraq breaks out.
Thailandís international reserve is expected to
increase while foreign debts are projected to drop further.
The senior banker said the country will continue to enjoy
a trade surplus of around US$2.5-3 billion and a current account surplus of
$5.4 billion. Given sustained economic fundamentals, the baht is expected to
The export was forecast to grow 4.8 percent during the
next year and the import to expand 6 percent. However, the slowdown in the
US and Japan economies will remain key risk factors for Thailandís export.
The excessive liquidity in the banking system has
declined while lending expanded slightly during 2002 and is expected to grow
It is believed the US Federal Reserve will not raise
interest rates in the first 6 months of 2003; therefore the Bank of Thailand
will most likely keep repurchase rates unchanged in during that period.
Dr Anusorn was upbeat about the stock market direction,
saying the index could rise to 514 points in 2003 with the price/earning
ratio of 10 times. In his view the Stock Exchange of Thailand could be one
of the bourses in the region that could give investors attractive returns. (TNA)