Bank of Thailand lowers economic growth forecasts hinh anh 1People buy food at a market in Bangkok (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) - The Bank of Thailand (BoT) lowered the country’s economic growth forecast to 2.5 percent in 2019 and 2.8 percent in the next year due to heightened external risks.

The BoT trimmed its 2019 GDP growth forecast to 2.5 percent from 2.8 percent estimated in September and lowered its 2020 growth outlook to 2.8 percent from 3.3 percent on heightened external risks. Last year's growth was 4.1 percent, reported the Bangkok Post.

Exports, a key driver of economic growth, are now expected to shrink 3.3 percent this year, compared with a 1 percent fall seen earlier. Next year's exports are expected to rise by a smaller 0.5 percent, rather than 1.7 percent.

The Thai economy would expand below its potential and below the previous forecast, mainly as merchandise exports had contracted more than the previous assessment and were projected to recover more slowly than expected, according to the central bank’s a statement.

The MPC committee said in a statement the current policy rate remains accommodative for growth and supports prices moving toward the central bank's target - currently 1-4 percent.

The central bank cut its forecasts for headline inflation in 2019 to 0.7 percent from 0.8 percent previously, and to 0.8 percent from 1.0 percent for 2020.

The BoT also expressed concern about the strength of the baht, Asia's best performing currency this year, which has risen around 7.6 percent against the US dollar, putting further pressure on already weak exports./.