You are here: Home › Thailand 2016

The Kingdom maintains its winning edge

As the first Asian country to establish formal diplomatic relations with the United States, the Kingdom of Thailand can now reflect on 183 years of friendship with an appreciation for the significant economic progress made despite challenging episodes in the Kingdom’s history.

And as Thailand has become a reliable partner of the United States, it has also become an economic leader in Southeast Asia. The road to progress was not smooth at first, but by the late 1980s, the country was making huge headway toward sustaining economic growth and reducing poverty.

By the 1990s, the Thai economy was being hailed as one of the Asian economic tigers, together with Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. More would have undoubtedly been achieved were it not for the financial crisis that affected the region in 1997. In the aftermath of the crisis, Asian nations strengthened banking regulations, arguably more effectively than anywhere else in the world. Thailand emerged from the crisis stronger and built its reputation as the region’s manufacturing center.

Amid lingering sociopolitical tensions, Thailand has remained the second-largest economy among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) based on gross domestic product, and the thirtieth largest economy in the world.

Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand

“We partner in a broad range of cooperation, including military and security cooperation, public health, education and science and technology cooperation,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai said.

“What we would like to see more of is the two countries continuing to work together in areas of mutual benefit, not just for the U.S. and Thailand but also for the region, such as in military cooperation, the fight against HIV/AIDS, child and forced labor, human trafficking and education, science, technology and innovation,” he added.

The Thai government looks to the next few years with great optimism, confident that its efforts will yield improved political stability and faster economic growth in the near future to the benefit of its entire people.

Building Confidence in Government

“The most important task of this government is to restore confidence,” said Minster of Commerce Apiradi Tantraporn, who admitted, however, that foreign investment had declined because of the political situation in the country.

Although exports and foreign direct investment have shrunk, the government remains resolute in stabilizing the economic and political climate in the country.

“Since we took office during the second half of 2015, the national legislative office has passed 120 new reforms in order to improve the functioning of government offices and the legislature,” said Tantraporn.

Apiradi Tantraporn Minister of Commerce of Thailand

The government has stepped up its efforts to change the global perception of Thailand and convince multinational companies to establish their regional headquarters in the country. Last year, the Thailand Board of Investment approved investment applications valued at more than $200 billion, up more than 10 percent from 2014. Although the new investments fell below target, they represent fresh ventures in advanced technologies and innovation. Those “industries of the future” fall within the new focus of the Board of Investment’s cluster promotion scheme.

“Foreign direct investment is very important to Thailand, especially for high-tech products. The government is investing significantly in infrastructure to become more appealing to investors. To further support investment, the government is also improving taxation and speeding up the process of obtaining work permits,” said Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI). The FTI is a driving force in connecting the private and public sector.

“Together with government, we are working on improving the ease of the doing business in Thailand. We support both local and foreign investors,” Mongkolsuthree added.

The AEC and Beyond

The launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015 ushered in a new era in the region. More than just a free trade zone, the AEC will create a single market and production base that will boost the competitiveness of its member countries.

With more than 600 million people, ASEAN’s potential market is larger than that of the European Union and the North American Free Trade Area. However, there are a few hurdles that Thailand, like its other neighbors, must overcome: particularly the improvement of English skills in its local workforce and the return to democratic rule in the country.

As a founding member of the ASEAN, Thailand is expected to play a critical role in ensuring the success of the AEC. The government appears committed to this objective and the private sector has in the past few years also become an equal driving force in this ambitious project.

“I see an opportunity for the local players in Asia to connect and collaborate with the key active players. ASEAN’S activities over the next decade will enhance overall connectivity throughout the region,” stressed Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, chief executive officer of Thai Beverage, the largest company in its sector in the country.

Thai Beverage CEO Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi

“In the next era, there will be more of a regional focus and better collaboration between the players and the investors. And Thailand plays a crucial role in that,” Sirivadhanabhakdi added.

Thailand still enjoys a certain reputational strength. In 2015, for the fifth straight year, Bangkok was named one of the top two Global Destination Cities by MasterCard. The Thai capital and London have shared the top two spots since the annual ranking began. More direct flights to China, Japan, and India have only increased economic and investment opportunities.

“I see Thailand as an opportunity to link to the Mekong region, but that’s not to say that the domestic market doesn’t have potential as well. Definitely I recommend to people to invest more in this region. The demographics speak for themselves,” said Jeremy King, chief executive officer of Siam Knight Fund Management Securities.

Although Singapore and Malaysia edge out their ASEAN neighbors in the latest ranking of economic competitiveness by the World Economic Forum, Thailand continues its steady rise up the table.

“If Thailand is to promote itself as a production hub, it will bring in more investment. I also see investment in services come in. We need to get ready for this, especially as a law firm, in order to manage the impact,” said Florean Laurean, managing director of McWalden & Bailey, which specializes in corporate & business investment, litigation, real estate and immigration, tax & accounting, intellectual property.

“If you look at the AEC, it is creating a singular market and increasing opportunities for business. This is a huge economic integration and there will be challenges. The important thing is that this economic bloc is going to increase and sustain competitiveness (in the region),” Laurean added.

So with the right policies and continued optimism, the country may find itself very close to the top.

Article Tags:

Thailand 2016 was prepared for and originally printed in GMI Post Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

Next :  

latest special Reports:

Upcoming Reports from

Greece 2020

See Preview »

When Greece and Japan celebrated the 120th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations last year, the two countries welcomed "a...

Saudi Arabia 2019

See Preview »

Guided by its Vision 2030, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has committed itself to a path of economic, industrial, social and digital transformation. A...

  • Global Media is your partner in reaching a powerful international audience through high-level economic reporting.

    Our ambition is to highlight under-reported developments and opportunities around the world, and allow leaders in these regions and sectors to take their message to the highest global level. We partner with top media to communicate with the world’s most powerful audiences. We specialize in communication and branding initiatives that help our clients effectively get their messages to their existing and potential partners. We achieve results for our clients by introducing them and their initiatives to an audience of elite international business and government leaders.

    Global Media Inc. is an independent media agency with offices in Hong Kong and Canada. GMI has more than a decade of experience in the writing, researching, and production of promotional country reports, with media partners from East Asia to North America. We have teams worldwide that develop country and thematic reports on the latest economic trends and developments.

    We are a media partner of Foreign Affairs,the United States’ most influential publication, published by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

    Nearly a century old, there isn’t a more influential or higher-reaching publication in the United States than Foreign Affairs. The journal is ranked #1 in influence by U.S. opinion leaders in a recent nationwide study conducted by Erdos and Morgan, the premier business-to-business research firm. Their findings place Foreign Affairs ahead of all media, both print and broadcast, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Washington Post.


    “We were extremely impressed with how efficient, well-coordinated, responsive and reliable the Global Media Inc. team was. We owe them a lot for their professionalism. We were very pleased with the outcome, and the article was very well-written. We hope to have an opportunity to work with Global Media Inc. again in the near future.� – Japan Airport Terminal Co. Ltd.
    “The Global Media team’s professionalism was excellent. Their team was great and always gave us the right suggestions and information. The product was excellent, and we were very happy to have such a great opportunity working with their excellent team.â€� – National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS)
    “We were honored to be chosen as one of the good universities in Japan. This article conveyed Seigakuin University’s educational ideals and the message from President Akudo. The advertisement was conspicuous and gave a good impression that Seigakuin nurtured students to contribute to world peace. We really appreciated what Global Media Inc. had did for us.â€� – Seigakuin University

    Whom we have featured:

    • Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
    • Australian Foreign Affairs Minister (and former Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd
    • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
    • Qatari Minister of International Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapa bin Mohamed
    • Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoshiaki Takaki
    • Taiwanese Foreign Minister Yang Chin-Tien
    • Taiwanese Finance Minister Lee Sush-Der
    • Taiwanese Economic Affairs Minister Shih Yen-Shiang
    • Taiwanese National Science Council Minister Lee Lou-Chuang,
    • Taiwanese Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Yeh Kuang-Shih
    • Taiwanese Political Deputy Minister of Education Dr. Lin Tsong-Ming
    • Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Dr. Dino Patti Djalal
    • Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board Chairman Gita Wirjawan
    • Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III
    • Philippine Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

Join our newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.