November 23, 2019 / 10:52 AM / 22 days ago

Thai central bank to ease FX rules due to limited scope on rates

LUANG PRABANG, Laos, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Thailand’s central bank said on Saturday it would ease rules governing the foreign exchange market and international reserves, giving it more scope to tackle the baht’s strength following a series of rate cuts.

“The policy rate is low when compared with the region ... will not be able to lower rates much further,” Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob told reporters, adding that negative interest rates would lead to structural problems.

Earlier this month the central bank lowered its one-day repurchase rates to 1.25%, the lowest level since the global financial crisis.

The baht is Asia’s best-performing currency this year, rising 7.7% against the dollar, and putting further pressure on exporters already affected by global trade tensions.

Veerathai said the central bank would review foreign exchange laws to allow greater flexibility, and to align regulations with new technological developments including digital currencies.

Outlining the monetary authority’s 2020-2022 strategy, Veerathai said exchange rate volatility was unavoidable because it is closely tied to unpredictable external factors.

He added that the central bank would look at how to relax foreign reserve measures and let Thai businesses keep currencies abroad because the country already had sufficient international buffers.

Mathee Supapongse, deputy governor for monetary stability, said the central bank was also studying policies that could be deployed through non-financial institutions to directly impact the market. He did not give further details. (Reporting by Kitiphong Thaichareon Writing by Chayut Setboonsarng Editing by Helen Popper)

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