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Political Unrest Threatens Thailand's Economy



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Economists are warning of slower growth in Thailand, southeast Asia's biggest economy. A major credit rating agency recently reported that continued political unrest in Thailand could hurt the economy. Fitch Ratings noted a drop in manufacturing and lower sales of goods and services.

The opposition Democrat Party has accused the ruling Pheu Thai party of being disloyal to the king. That is a serious accusation in Thailand. The opposition has also questioned the fairness of recent elections. Now foreign investors are expressing concern. The president of Toyota Motor Corp in Thailand has warned that investors may put their money in other countries.

Chris Baker is an expert on business in Thailand. He says major foreign investors are concerned about the lack of a clear winner in February 2nd election. In addition, Thailand's government is facing financial pressures. The government promised to pay rice farmers more than $3 billion for rice at a higher price than market rates.

Banks have been unwilling to loan money for the rice payments. Foreign investors have been withdrawing from the Thai stock market since political protests began in November. By the end of January, the leading measure of Thai stocks has lost 10 percent of its value. Some experts say the fact that the elections were largely peaceful is a hopeful sign.

Yet Thailand's economy has been hurt by the recent unrest in Bangkok. More than forty countries have warned their citizens about the violence. The economy has recovered from earlier problems. But the unrest may make it harder for foreigners to want to return to Thailand.

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