The Thai Baht has experienced a sustained period of strength for several years now and this is anticipated to continue throughout 2019 with experts even suggesting that the currency could hit 30 against the US dollar as early as the start of Q2. The currency’s strength has been attributed to a burgeoning economy which has in itself seen sustained growth, albeit that it has slowed more recently.
There has been speculation regarding an increase in offshore funds coming into Thailand from the US whilst efforts are still being made to encourage big business to move their operations to Thailand. The strong currency and expanding economy will no doubt make this attractive but the initial start-up costs will naturally be higher due to the Thai Baht’s strength. However, with incentives in place such as the ones offered by the Board of Investment (BOI), the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs.
The Bank of Ayudhya believes that the dollar will fluctuate between 30 and 32 in the first two quarters and then stabilise between 31.5 and 32.5 for the remainder of the year. Some analysts have suggested that interest rates may be raised to try to control the currency’s strength whilst others believe that the country is delighted with the current strength of the Baht. Of course, external factors may play a role such as quantitative easing by the European Central Bank as well as measures taken in the US.
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The Thai economy is expected to expand by around 4.7% throughout 2019 with export growth expected to rise by around 5%. This suggests that Thailand is ready to compete with some of the other major economies in South East Asia as well as making Thailand an attractive destination for investors. This will be required to ensure that Thailand plays a prominent role within ASEAN and indeed around the globe. Certainly, everything points towards a very bright future for the country moving forward.
The strong baht is great for many businesses in the region, but it may not be so appealing to those looking to purchase property in Thailand. Of course, the stronger the Thai Baht is, the more expensive properties become with condos purchased in Foreign Quota requiring funds to be brought into Thailand from overseas. Conversely, when it comes to selling properties the seller will receive a greater amount when they are converting the funds back to Dollars, Euros or Sterling. Potentially, this could lead to properties depreciating in Baht but appreciating in other currencies.
Here in Pattaya, we are witnessing increasing tourist numbers year-on-year and this is something that should be welcomed. Many of these tourists are coming from China with the Chinese Yuan being relatively stable against the Thai Baht. Western tourist numbers still appear to fluctuate although reports suggest that their numbers are still increasing although many would question the accuracy of this information. Regardless, Pattaya is a city that is thriving and certainly rapidly evolving so, in reality, the prospects look good both in the short and long term.
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