Thai Economy Grew 2.6% in 2008

Down from 4.9% in 2007

Amid political turmoil and the effects of the global economic crisis, Thailand's economy grew by just 2.6% last year and shrank in the final quarter.

The growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for 2008 was down from 4.9% in 2007, due largely to a drop in exports, imports and investment, the National Economic and Social Development Board said.

Growth fell 4.3% in the final quarter of last year, the board said, adding: "Almost all production growth decreased, particularly manufacturing."

It particularly blamed a week-long closure of Bangkok's airports in late November and early December by protesters who opposed the previous government loyal to ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Sectors including construction, trade, hotels and restaurants and transport and communication were worst hit because of the "subdued situation of tourism as a result of airports shutdown," the board said.

The economy was expected to was expected to grow at between -1% and zero percent this year, the board said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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