Thailand not a currency manipulator, says c.bank chief


By Kitiphong Thaichareon

BANGKOK, May 16 (Reuters) - Thailand does not manipulate the value of the baht currency in order to gain any competitive advantage for exporters, its central bank governor said on Thursday in response to speculation Thailand could be added to a U.S. watchlist.

"If we had done so, our baht would not be like this," Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said.

The baht's strength has been driven by external factors and the currency will remain volatile due to global trade tensions and the monetary policies of major countries, Veerathai said.

He said the only intervention undertaken was aimed at smoothing out any excessive moves in the foreign exchange market.

Thailand's had a high current account surplus and a trade surplus with the United States without the benefit of any currency market manipulation, he said, and there should be no reason for alarm over reports that Thailand could be added to a list of countries being monitored by the U.S. Treasury.

"Do no panic if you hear that we are added to the watchlist. It will not affect the economy and our policy implementation," he said.

Bank of Thailand would continue to intervene to reduce volatility when large foreign fund inflows hit the currency market, Veerathai said.

"That's normal, like other emerging countries," he said.

Thailand's economic growth this year is expected to be less than the central bank's forecast of 3.8 percent as rising trade protectionism hurt exports and investment, Veerathai said.

The central bank will next review its growth forecast at its monetary policy meeting in June. Growth last year was 4.1 percent, the fastest in six years.

This article appears in: Stocks , World Markets , Economy , Banking and Loans

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