BANGKOK -- Thailand's economy grew at a lower-than-expected pace in July-September, data showed Monday as the government cut its forecast for the year while analysts warned political turmoil could inflict further damage.
On a year-on-year basis, GDP expanded 2.7% in the third quarter of 2013, weaker than the adjusted 2.9% in April-June, the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) said.
It was the third straight quarter of slowing growth in the kingdom, and came on the back of a drop-off in consumer spending, the board said, although the economy did benefit from a surge in tourist arrivals and increased state spending.
Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal forecast growth at 2.95%.
The economy expanded 1.3 %t in the period quarter-on-quarter, the government agency said, ending a run of negative growth stretching back to January, when the economy contracted by a revised 1.6%.
The NESDB projected the Thai economy "is likely to grow by 3%" in 2013, lower than the 3.8%-4.3% forecast in August.
"In 2014, the Thai economy is expected to grow in the range of 4%-5%," it added, on the back of a global economic recovery and massive state spending on infrastructure. The economy grew 6.5% in 2012.
But with anti-government protests entering a third week on Monday, experts said the specter of political unrest could impact growth.
Critics of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have held daily rallies after a botched attempt by her administration to push through a political amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother -- and former premier -- Thaksin to return from self-exile.
"As long as protests remain peaceful, the impact on GDP will be short-lived and small," experts at Capital Economics said in a briefing note. "However there is a risk of prolonged and violent unrest," they said, adding any repeat of clashes seen in 2010 would likely batter the kingdom's crucial tourist industry.
Thailand's household consumption dropped by 1.2% on the previous year, the NESDB said, on the back off lower farm incomes and the expiry of a government rebate for first-time car buyers.
However, the kingdom's tourism sector grew 26.1% year-on-year, boosting hotel occupancy rates and restaurant takings.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013