BANGKOK - Thailand's economy suffered a double-digit contraction in the fourth quarter of 2011, the sharpest on record, it said Monday after the kingdom's worst floods in half a century pummelled industry.
Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 10.7 per cent in October-December from the previous quarter, according to the National Economic and Social Development Board. GDP fell 9.0 per cent compared with the same period in 2010.
It was the sharpest drop in a single quarter since comparable records began in 1993, according to Apichai Thamsermsukh, an official at the government agency.
The 1997-98 Asian financial crisis saw smaller quarterly declines but over a longer time period, he said.
"This is an unusual drop caused by the manufacturing sector," Apichai added.
The months-long floods last year killed hundreds of people and took a heavy toll on Thailand's industrial heartland north of Bangkok, with many factories forced to close temporarily.
For the whole of 2011, Thailand's economy expanded by 0.1 per cent, after an increase of 7.8 per cent in 2010, the figures showed, missing analyst forecasts.
But the government and analysts are optimistic about prospects for a rebound, with Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong predicting last week that the export-dependent economy could grow by 7.0 per cent in 2012.
"Last year's floods severely affected the Thai economy but the contraction is only temporary," said Standard Chartered economist Usara Wilaipich.
"There will be an economic recovery this year, driven by domestic demand and manufacturing, which are rebounding."