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Thailand plans 316B baht stimulus amid trade headwinds

Thailand on Aug. 16 unveiled a stimulus package worth 316 billion baht in a bid to shore up the economy and combat export headwinds amid the impact of ongoing trade tensions.

In a Facebook post, Thai Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said the package includes aid for farmers, welfare benefits and funding to boost tourism and consumption. The package, which represents 1.9% of Thailand's GDP, is subject to cabinet approval.

Among the funding allocations, 109 billion baht will be sourced from the government budget while the remaining will be through loans granted by government-run financial institutions, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Separately, Savanayana said the government targets to achieve 3% GDP growth this year.

Data released Aug. 19 showed that the Thai economy grew 2.3% in the second quarter, decelerating from a 2.8% expansion in the first three months of 2019 and marking the weakest pace of growth in nearly five years.

"It needs to be seen how quickly this stimulus gets off the ground to kick-start the economy over the remainder of the year, since the weak coalition government might well face political hurdles in getting the package through the parliament," said Prakash Sakpal, Asia economist at ING.

"Uncertainty about the fiscal stimulus leaves the onus with central bank monetary stimulus."

As of Aug. 16, US$1 was equivalent to 30.94 Thai baht.