Thailand offers exciting business opportunities to companies prepared to take a serious interest in this dynamic market. It is the second-largest economy in ASEAN accounting for 17% of ASEAN GDP. Thailand is also well placed to offer a gateway to both ASEAN and Asia-Pacific markets, particularly India and China, many of which offer great business potential.
Over a number of years, Thailand has managed to transform its economy from one that was primarily agriculture-based to one of the most diverse in the region. As well as agriculture, major industries include food processing, cement, integrated circuits, automotive parts and assembly, petroleum products, textiles, footwear, toys, furniture, synthetic fibre, and tourism. The country has a well-developed infrastructure, a free-enterprise economy and generally pro-investment policies.
The UK is one of the leading European investors in Thailand with UK companies operating across the Thai economy. The rewards for doing business in Thailand can be considerable, but it takes time to develop the necessary business relationships. The country’s economic growth has created openings for UK firms in a number of infrastructure sectors including electrical power, telecommunications, and renewable energy.
Thailand is the world’s 29th largest economy with a GDP of USD 388 billion. GDP growth averaged 4.1% between 2000 and 2013 according to HSBC and the government’s infrastructure investment plans continue to fuel steady economic growth.
- Head of State: His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn
- Prime minister: Prayut Chan-o-cha
- Capital city: Bangkok
- Total population: 69.63 million
- Languages: Thai, English, ethnic and regional dialects
- Religions: Buddhist 93.2%, Muslim 5.5%, Christian 0.9%, Other 0.4%
- Monetary unit: Baht (THB)
- Natural resources: Tin, rubber, natural gas, tungsten, tantalum, timber, lead, fish, gypsum, lignite, fluorite, arable land
- Major exports: Electronics, computer parts, automobiles and parts, electrical appliances, machinery and equipment, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rice, rubber
- Major imports: Capital goods, intermediate goods and raw materials, consumer goods, fuels
Thailand is a founding member of ASEAN and joined in August 1967. Thailand’s economy is in the top three in ASEAN in terms of size and volume of international trade. It is therefore well positioned as the region moves towards economic integration and a single free-trade area. Zero tariffs between the top five members (including Thailand) were implemented in January 2010.
The Thai Government welcomes foreign investment. The country maintains an open, market-oriented economy and views the foreign investment as a means of promoting economic development, employment, and technology transfer. Through Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI), the Thai Government offers a range of tax incentives, support services, and import duty concessions to companies from various sectors seeking to invest in the market. Over the last few decades, Thailand has been a major destination for foreign investment and this looks set to continue.