Thai economy predicted to return to before COVID-19 level in 2023 hinh anh 1Bank of Thailand governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput (Photo: Bangkok Post)
Bangkok (VNA) - Thailand's economy may return to levels logged before the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2023, according to the Bank of Thailand (BOT) governor.

The recovery will be slow and uneven across business sectors, BOT governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput was quoted by local media on December 8 at a forum hosted by the Foreign Ministry.

The pandemic severely hurt the economy, especially the tourism sector, which accounts for 12 percent of GDP, he said.

In 2019, Thailand recorded nearly 40 million foreign arrivals. The central bank expects about 6 million foreign tourists next year.

Earlier, Siam Commercial Bank's research house has downgraded its 2022 economic growth forecast from 3.4 percent to 3.2 percent, as the COVID-19 Omicron variant is expected to take a toll on the global economy and delay Thailand's tourism recovery until at least the beginning of next year.

Overall, the economy in 2022 would see a slow, steady rebound from lasting scarring effects, according to Yunyong Thaicharoen, chief economist at Siam Commercial Bank Economic Intelligence Center (SCB EIC).

SCB EIC expects the economy will return to its pre-pandemic 2019 level by mid-2023, he said.

In 2022, the research house expects a rebound in domestic and external demand, led by buoyant exports, in line with an improving global economy and trade.

The tourism sector will likely regain pace. The research house anticipates around 5.9 million foreign visitors next year and 330,000 this year.

On December 8, the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking issued a forecast for 2022 GDP growth of 3-4.5 percent, compared with its estimate of 0.5-1.5 percent growth this year./.