Thailand is regarded a newly industrialized country, the 8 th largest economy in Asia. Thailand is usually around the 35-40 th most competitive nation according to the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness ranking. (Among 140 countries rated in the report.) The industrial and service sectors are the main inputs in the Thai gross domestic product (GDP), with the former accounting for 39.2%. Thailand’s agricultural sector produces 8.4% of the GDP, lower than the logistics or communication sectors. The economy of Thailand is highly dependent on exports.
Thailand occupies a central position within South East Asia, bordering Myanmar in the west and north, Lao PDR and Cambodia in the east and to the south, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, as well as having maritime borders with Viet Nam, Indonesia, and India. The country is today a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, and is considered to be a strong power in the region, with the second-largest economy.
The country has a relatively well-developed infrastructure, and an open economy with business-friendly policies. Thailand has strong international trade networks, with exports accounting for around 67% of GDP, including electronic articles, agricultural products and processed foods, and vehicle production including parts. While the country has long been known for its agricultural production, this only contributes around 10% of GDP, while modern industry and services account for 90%. Read more here. The economy slowed somewhat since the coup in 2014, but the overall economy is positive with low inflation, low unemployment and relatively good levels of public debt.
Thailand has developed steadily over the past decades and is ranked a very creditable 21st place in World Bank Ease of Doing Business out of 190 countries. In 2019, Thailand launched the Thailand 4.0 strategy intended to encourage investment into an innovation and services driven economy and move the country to a higher technological level with focus on robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, medical hub and digitalisation. This will also include changes in the education system to help the country be better positioned for the future.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand registered negative GDP growth in 2020 for the first time since 1998, going from 2.4% in 2019 to -7.1%. In its January 2021 update of the World Economic Outlook, the IMF revised GDP growth projections for Thailand to 2.7% in 2021 and 4.6% in 2022, showing a slower recovery than expected in October 2020, reflecting the challenges with vaccine rollout and the country’s dependence on global economic recovery, particularly for the tourism and service industries.