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Thai economy soars in fourth-quarter

Feb 18 2013 08:12 AFP
Thailand heat

A vendor covers his head with a basket as temperatures spike in Bangkok. (Sakchai Lalit, AP)

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Bangkok - Thailand's economy enjoyed record growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 as industry recovered from the impact of the kingdom's worst floods in decades, official data showed Monday.

Gross domestic product (GDP) soared 18.9% in the three months through December from the year-earlier period according to the government's National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

GDP rose 3.6% compared with the previous quarter.

Strong domestic and international demand helped to drive the strong performance, said NESDB secretary general Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

"There has been a full recovery after the severe floods," he told a press conference.

The Thai economy suffered a double-digit contraction in the wake of the months-long floods, which deluged vast swathes of the country in 2011, killing hundreds of people and causing widespread damage to factories.

At their height the floodwaters affected 65 of the country's 77 provinces, swamping hundreds of thousands of homes and disrupting global supply chains.

The NESDB forecasts economic growth of 4.5%-5.0% for 2013, after an expansion of 6.4% in 2012.

"An economic recovery in the United States, China and Europe will be good for Thai exports," Arkhom said, adding that an increase in the kingdom's minimum wage would also boost domestic demand.

Rising car sales and production helped to lift GDP in the fourth quarter due to a government scheme to encourage new vehicle purchases.

Thailand's central bank last month held its key interest rate steady at 2.75% citing a better-than-expected performance in the economy.

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thailand  |  gdp
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