Thai economy could lose over $40 billion if virus crisis goes beyond second quarter

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the almost deserted Chinatown, one of the city's top tourist spots, in Bangkok, Thailand March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s economy is expected to lose 1.3 trillion baht (nearly $40 billion), almost all of it in the tourist sector, due to the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a banking association said on Tuesday.

“But if the outbreak cannot be controlled within the current quarter, the impact will be bigger,” Predee Daochai, chairman of the Thai Bankers’ Association, said in a statement.

However, a government package of economic measures worth 1.9 trillion baht should help mitigate the virus impact on Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, Predee said.

The central bank has forecast the economy to contract 5.3% this year, which would be the weakest performance since 1998, when the Thailand was ravaged by the Asian financial crisis.

Thailand has confirmed 2,613 cases of infection and 41 deaths. It has imposed a nationwide night curfew, having closed malls and bars and discouraged social activities to limit the spread.

Reporting by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore