Business leaders confident in economy despite mourning lull

economy3Thai and foreign business leaders expressed confidence that the economy would continue to gather strength despite an expected lull in business activity because of mourning for late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and the Finance Ministry said it would develop some additional stimulus measures to cushion any negative economic impacts, which are expected to be short term.

“Right now there isn’t any significant impact on the Thai economy and I think the government is handling the situation very well,” said Rolf-Dieter Daniel, president of the European Association for Business and Commerce (EABC).

Nonetheless, many analysts predicted a short-term negative impact on growth as businesses cancel festive events, and consumers may be less likely to spend while mourning. Officially, the mourning period will last one year, but business activity is expected to pick up in a matter of weeks as society gradually begins to return to something approaching a sense of normalcy even as people continue to grieve.

Christine Shield of Oxford Economics told Reuters news agency that a near-term economic pause is likely, and Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Bank, said consumer confidence “which has been recovering at a gradual pace since June may slip in the near term as the population mourns their beloved King.”

But analysts generally agreed that the economy would weather any temporary easing of activity and perform solidly as the transition to a new reign proceeds smoothly as expected.

Others were even more optimistic. Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce, said foreign investors remain confident in Thailand and its strong economy. The tragic news, he said, would not have any adverse effect on the overall economy.

The joint and individual chambers all issued messages of condolences to the royal family, Thailand and its people over the passing of the king. “His Majesty the King contributed a lot to the country and its economy, especially the development of the agricultural sector,” Kang said.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand was among those sending its condolences and sympathies to the Thai people. “His Majesty will be remembered as a monarch who favored a close interaction with his people and his land”, the Chamber said in the statement.

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong has told his ministry to research and develop additional stimulus measures so that the economy would not lose the momentum it has been gaining this year. Any new stimulus measures would be temporary, most likely lasting only until the end of the year, he said.