Thailand’s economy probably contracted in the fourth quarter, as the worst floods in almost 70 years forced companies from Honda Motor Co. to Canon Inc. to shut plants and evacuate workers.

However, in January 76,246 vehicles were sold according to data compiled by Toyota Motor Thailand. That’s an increase of 11.5 per cent from the same period last year.

Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, senior vice president of TMT, attributed the increase to consistent demand. However, the growth rate dropped from the same period last year, as some automakers are unable to resume normal operations.

Of total, passenger car sales dropped 9.8 per cent on year, to 27,962 units. Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co Ltd, the biggest passenger carmaker, plans to resume operations soon after floods hit its plants in Ayutthaya in October.

But, the situation doesn’t look good. Gross domestic product declined 9 percent in the three months through December from a year earlier, after climbing a revised 3.7 percent the previous quarter, the National Economic and Social Development Board said in Bangkok today.

It was the sharpest drop in a single quarter since comparable records began in 1993, according to Apichai Thamsermsukh, an official at the government agency.

“This is an unusual drop caused by the manufacturing sector,” Apichai added.

The floods killed more than 700 people and covered two-thirds of the country.


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