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The Thai baht goes from Asia’s best performing currency to the worst

By Ramla Soni

The coronavirus epidemic sees the baht losing around 4.1 per cent against the US dollar so far this year

The Thai baht goes from Asia best performing currency to the worst
Bangkok, Thailand

The Thai baht has gone from being the strongest currency in Asia in 2019 to one of the worst performing in 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The Thai currency has lost around 4.1 per cent against the US dollar so far this year, reversing almost half of its 7.9 per cent gain against the dollar in 2019.

In a bid to boost the Thai economy, the country’s central bank, the Bank of Thailand, cut its policy rate to an all-time low earlier this week. It said the spread of the virus is one reason that will deteriorate growth.

The spread of a new coronavirus, said to have originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, has led Chinese authorities to quarantine multiple cities, shut down business hubs by extending the Lunar New Year holidays and ban overseas group tours.

China is the world’s largest outbound travel market and 10.5 million Chinese travellers visited Thailand in 2018, according to data by the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

The Thai Tourism Ministry estimated that reduced tourists from China could lead to 50bn baht ($1.61bn) of lost revenue.

The first coronavirus infection in Thailand was reported on January 13, making it the first country outside China to report such infection.

Confirmed cases reached 25, including one person in serious condition, by February 5. Out of the confirmed cases, six are Thai citizens and 19 are of Chinese origin.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit Thailand after a weak third quarter for the economy. Thailand's economic growth slowed down to 2.4 per cent in Q3 2019.

However, the Thai government is taking measures. The government has evacuated 138 Thailand citizens from Wuhan, China.

Out of the 138 evacuees, six have been transferred to hospitals upon detecting high temperatures and the rest will be quarantined for a period of 14 days in a naval resort in Sattahip.

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