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UPDATE 1-Thai PM sees over 7% growth this year, 4-5% in 2011

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UPDATE 1-Thai PM sees over 7% growth this year, 4-5% in 2011

BANGKOK, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday economic growth would exceed 7 percent this year before slowing to 4-5 percent next year. Inflation was manageable, he added, speaking to reporters. Headline inflation was 3.4 percent, up from 3.3 percent in June. This week, Thailand's state planning agency raised its growth forecast to 7.0-7.5 percent for this year, nearly double its forecast in May of 3.5-4.5 percent, as Thailand's economy unexpectedly grew in the second quarter as strong export growth offset political violence over April and May that killed 91 people and hurt tourism and private consumption. . Tourism, which is equivalent to 6 percent of GDP and employs at least 15 percent of the workforced, has recovered rapidly after the unrest, Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said. "While tourism had suffered significantly in May and also in June, the recovery since then has surprised us on the upside," he said, speaking at a Credit Suisse event in Singapore. "We are already able to expect that total number of tourist arrivals for the year would not be lower than last year." Thailand received 14.1 million foreign tourists in 2009. Asked by reporters whether Thai interest rate rises had led to a stronger baht and speculation in the currency, Abhisit said currency appreciation was a regional problem and the baht's moves were in line with other Asian peers. The baht was around 31.31 per dollar on Friday, a 29-month high, having risen 6.4 percent against the dollar this year as foreign investors keep buying Thai assets. The central bank on Wednesday lifted its main interest rate by a quarter point to 1.75 percent, the second rise six weeks, to curb growing inflation as the economy grew. A Reuters poll of 11 economists showed all expect another quarter point rise in October.

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