BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s industrial sentiment in February reached its highest level in 47 months, bolstered by a rebound in domestic demand and tourism, but weak exports were a concern, an industries group said on Wednesday.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said its industries sentiment index rose to 96.2 in February from 93.9 in January, marking a return to pre-pandemic levels.
The tourism sector, a key driver of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, is expected to see 25-30 million foreign tourists this year, the government said, after beating its target in 2022 with 11.15 million visitors.
Positive factors include China’s border opening and the lower costs of raw materials, FTI chairman Kriengkrai Thiennukul told a news conference.
The FTI’s index, which projects industrial sentiment over the next three months, also increased in February.
The group urged the government to avoid any disruption in public spending when Thailand holds a general election in May.
“We want budget disbursements to continue as planned to support the economy until we have a new government,” Kriengkrai said, adding the next government should be formed in August.
Industry was still concerned about falling exports as global demand weakened at a time of high global interest rates and inflation as well as currency volatility, the group said.
Thai exports, also a key driver of Thai growth, dropped for a fourth straight months in January as global demand weakened. The FTI expects exports to be flat or fall up to 1% this year.