Thailand revises down GDP growth forecast due to surging COVID-19 cases hinh anh 1An empty street in Bangkok, Thailand after the government tightens restrictions to curb COVID-19 spread. (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)
Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand on August 16 downgraded its economic growth forecast for 2021 as the country is battling its worst COVID-19 wave, which has brought record numbers of new infections and deaths.

The Southeast Asian country last year suffered its worst full-year performance since the Asian financial crisis in 1997 with a 6.1 percent economic contraction.

The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) had initially given a forecast for recovery during the first quarter, estimating growth of 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent for 2021.

But NESDC Secretary-General Danucha Pichayanan announced it had to revise that figure down to between 0.7-1.2 percent.

This crisis caused by the pandemic is unlike the financial crises in 1997 and 2009, he said during a press conference, adding that the estimation is based on domestic causes.

He further said that the new forecast was dependent on the hope that the pandemic’s curve will flatten after the third quarter, thus enabling a relaxation of restrictions by October.

But if the pandemic continues and relaxation cannot start in the fourth quarter, the growth could be lower than 0.7 percent, Danucha said.

Thailand’s GDP for the second quarter was up 7.5 percent from the same period last year, the first sign of recovery since the pandemic broke out. The growth was most visible in agricultural, industrial and exports sectors, while tourism — once Thailand’s cash cow — remained sluggish.

Since the start of the pandemic Thailand has recorded 928,314 cases with 7,733 deaths, the bulk of them detected since April.

The country has seen more than 20,000 new cases reported daily for nearly a week, crowding its already-hampered healthcare system and filling up its state-run quarantine facilities.

In another move, Fitch Solutions has also lowered Malaysia’s GDP growth forecast to 0 percent from 4.9 percent this year due to surging COVID-19 cases.
Malaysia is likely to remain under lockdown for the remaining months of 2021./.