This story is part of Forbes’ report on Thailand’s richest 2021. See the full list here.
Thailand was hit hard by the epidemic. This year, the total return on government bonds has performed the worst among emerging Asian markets. During the same period, the Thai baht performed the second worst among Asian currencies and the worst among Southeast Asian currencies.
After successfully containing Covid19 last year, the government is struggling to cope with the largest wave of infections to date, prompting the central bank to lower its GDP growth forecast for this year from 3% to 1.8%.
In countries where tourism accounts for 20% of GDP, these industries alone have lost 1.4 million jobs. In May of last year, Thai Airways became the first and only Southeast Asian flag carrier to file for bankruptcy protection. According to World Bank data, 4,444 Thais were also affected and the country’s poverty rate increased from 6.2% in 2019 to 8.8% last year.
On the bright side, as global demand rebounded, May exports rebounded 40% year-on-year. Thailand has made significant progress in the past generation, thanks to the employment opportunities created by the private sector, which has lifted millions of people out of poverty.
Despite this, even before the pandemic, economic growth has slowed due to declining demand due to Sino-US tensions, economic mismanagement, and rising household debt. Covid19 further affected the already turbulent domestic political landscape.
Mass immunization of COVID19 vaccine in Bangkok
AstraZeneca COVID19 vaccine is an injection that people can receive in Thailand. VACHIRA VACHIRA / NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
Thailand’s recovery will depend on global growth and vaccine progress; the government has promised to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year, but the vaccination rate will remain in the single digits. Thailand’s troubled tourism industry is also hopeful, with plans to fully reopen the border before the end of the year, although no one knows when the tourism industry will return to pre-pandemic levels.