Thailand: Baht boosted by foreign investors

The stronger baht is the result of foreign investors’ confidence in Thailand, says Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith.

He said the appreciation of the baht is in line with the inflow of capital to the equity and bond markets, coupled with the country’s healthy fiscal stability.

Thailand also recorded a high level of foreign tourist arrivals, while the state budget disbursement for fiscal 2023 has met the target, said Mr Arkhom.

On Tuesday Krungthai Compass, a research unit under Krungthai Bank, forecast foreign arrivals for this year to tally 22.5 million, up from 10.2 million expected for 2022. Of the total, the unit anticipates 4.8 million visitors will be Chinese nationals, a 20% increase from its previous forecast of 4 million, attributed to China’s reopening on Jan 8.

Krungthai Compass predicts Thai GDP growth of 3.4% this year, rising slightly from an estimate of 3.2% for 2022.

“Foreign investors have invested more in Thailand because they’re confident in our economy,” Mr Arkhom said.

He said the movement of the baht is not a concern as it is being monitored by the Bank of Thailand.

The average value of the baht this month has been 33 to the US dollar, strengthening from 38 baht in September last year, which was the weakest in 16 years.

According to Bloomberg, the Thai currency is likely to get a boost from expectations of higher tourist arrivals following China’s reopening and an earlier peak in the mainland’s Covid-19 wave, likely around Lunar New Year, Morgan Stanley strategists including Min Dai and Gek Teng Khoo wrote in a note on Monday.

The baht has been Asia’s best performer this month, strengthening by 3.4% against the dollar.

Global funds poured copy.5 billion into Thai bonds in the first nine days of January, the largest inflow in Asia, amid optimism that China’s reopening will mean more mainland travellers visiting Thailand. Tourism contributed around 20% of Thai GDP before the pandemic.