Thailand Economic Growth Slows Last Quarter, Boosts Stimulus Case

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s economic growth unexpectedly slowed in the third quarter as manufacturing slumped on weak exports, supporting the case for the new government to proceed with its planned $14 billion cash handout program.

Gross domestic product in the three months through September rose 1.5% from a year earlier, the National Economic and Social Development Council said Monday. That’s well below the 2.2% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey and 1.8% growth in the second quarter.

The economy expanded 0.8% quarter-on-quarter, against a median estimate of a 1.3% growth. For the first nine months, the economy improved just 1.9%.

The disappointing print prompted the NESDC to narrow its 2023 GDP growth forecast to 2.5% from a prior estimate of 2.5%-3%. The Council’s chief Danucha Pichayanan said at a briefing that the government should try to create sufficient fiscal space to prepare for future risks.

Even as tourism — which is a key plank of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy — recovered and buoyed domestic activity, growth still lagged many of its neighbors amid a slump in exports and government spending.