Consumers shine in economy’s strong start to the year


Gains in private consumption helped to boost the economy in a sign that consumers are increasingly more confident on the prospects of a sustained recovery, the Finance Ministry says.

Pornchai Theeravej, finance and economics adviser to the Fiscal Policy Office (FPO), yesterday said that private consumption, both domestic and from abroad, was a key factor in stimulating the economy in January.
Value-added tax collection, which serves as rough indicator of household consumption, rose 6.9 per cent in January from the same month in 2017, according to a monthly economic report released by the FPO yesterday. Car sales last month rose 27.3 per cent year on year, for a winning streak of 13 consecutive months. However, they pulled back from the 41 per cent growth posted in December.  

Sales of motorcycles that month nudged up 3.5 per cent year on year.

The statistics suggest that the rise in care sales is not confined to Bangkok, with buyers in provincial areas also active, Pornchai said.

The Consumer Confidence Index climbed to 67 in January, extending gains to a sixth straight month and the highest level in 34 months.

Demand in overseas markets continue to rise as Thailand’s exports in dollar terms jumped 17.6 per cent, a 62-month high and the 11th straight month of advances.

The top export categories include automotive and parts, electronics, chemical products and farm products. High-growth export markets for the month were Asean countries, Japan, China and the United States.

Imports increased 24.3 per cent, led by materials and semi-final goods, and capital goods, which suggested continued expansion in private investment.
Another healthy indicator for private investment was a 10.2 per cent rise in commercial vehicle sales year on year, compared with 9.5 per cent expansion in December. Sales were led by one-tonne pickup |trucks.

An index for the price of construction material index rose 2.8 per cent year on year. Tax collection related to transactions involving home ownership jumped 21.1 per cent.  

A rising number of tourist arrivals also boosted the economy in January, which saw a growth rate of 10.9 per cent to 3.54 million. Source markets with high growth include China, Russia, South Korea, Laos, India and Eastern Europe.  

Total foreign tourist spending is estimated to be worth Bt189 billion, up 11.6 per cent year on year.  

The Thai Industries Sentiment Index stood at 91, rising for a third consecutive month and the highest level in 36 months. The growth was largely supported by government infrastructure investments.  

The agricultural production index expanded 13 per cent due on strength in horticulture livestock enterprises and fisheries, Pornchai said.