Business in Thailand

Business in Thailand

The second largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, Thailand is conveniently located to be a hub for continental ASEAN. A regional leader in tourism, automotive, electronics, Thailand has shown a resilient economy despite going through tensed political situations in recent years.

Map of Thailand
Map of Thailand
  • Official country name: Kingdom of Thailand
  • Capital: Bangkok
  • Total Area: 513,120 km²
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
  • Currency: Baht, ฿ – THB
  • Drives on the: left
  • Calling Code: +66
  • Internet TLD: .th

Demographics

  • Population: 67,959,000 (2015 Estimate)
  • Population Density: 132.1/km²
  • Official Languages: Thai
  • HDI: 0.740 (medium)
  • Ethnic Groups: (2009-2011)
    • Thai
      • 34.1% Central Thai
      • 24.9% Khon Isan
      • 9.9% Khon Muang
      • 7.5% Southern Thai
    • 14% Thai Chinese
    • 12% Others

The Thai business environment

Emblem of Thailand
Emblem of Thailand

Long ranked as one of the fastest growing countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand has conquered its place as one of its top exporters. Now led by services and industry, Thailand is nonetheless also a regional hub for many industries and a leader in the production and export of several agricultural commodities and transformed products.

Though politics have been somewhat unstable, Thailand has recovered after a short downturn, with the resilience of the tourism industry and the countries' largest companies. New set towards modernization with "Thailand 4.0" policies, Thailand remains attractive for foreign businesses thanks to its low taxes and relatively business-friendly environment.

Main taxes in Thailand

Key economic data of Thailand

  • GDP (PPP): USD 1.152 Trillion (2016 Estimate)
  • GDP per Capita (PPP): USD 16,706
  • GDP (Nominal): USD 409.724 Billion (2016 Estimate)
  • GDP per Capita (Nominal): USD 5,938
  • GDP Growth:
    • 0.8% (2014)
    • 2.8% (2015)
    • 3.1% (2016e)
    • 3.2% (2017f)
  • GDP by sector: (2012)
    • agriculture: 8.4%
    • industry: 39.2%
    • services: 52.4%
  • Labor force: 39.41 million (2012)
  • Unemployment: 0.9% (2014)
  • Inflation (2012):
    • 3.02% (Headline)
    • 2.09% (Core)

Key sectors of Thailand

Thanks notably to massive foreign investments, especially from Japanese companies, Thailand has become a regional hub for the automotive industry.  It is also a large production center for electric and electronic applicances and components, which are exported all over the world.

A leader in the production and export of several agriculture commodities, such as rice, rubber and fishery products, Thailand is primarily a service economy with a strong financial sector.

Thailand is a leader for tourism in Southeast Asia in terms of numbers of foreign tourists arrivals. With Bangkok, a global capital with rich heritage, world famous islands and beaches, jungles and wild nature and famous UNESCO world heritage sites, Thailand is a world-famous destination, long promoted as "Amazing Thailand". 

Main industries of Thailand

  • automobiles and automotive parts (11%)
  • financial services (9%)
  • electric appliances and components (8%)
  • tourism (6%)
  • cement
  • auto manufacturing
  • heavy and light industries
  • appliances
  • computers and parts
  • furniture
  • plastics
  • textiles and garments
  • agricultural processing
  • beverages
  • tobacco

Thailand 4.0 expanding in digital

With strong enthusiasm from the Thai for digital and mobile technologies, Thailand shows some of the region's strongest engagement in social media. Taking profit from these trends, the Thai authorities are thus increasing their support to startups with the ultimate goal of modernizing the economy through their vision "Thailand 4.0".

Numbers of Internet, social media and mobile users in Thailand in January 2017

Thailand for professionals and work

With a tropical climate, welcoming population and well-developed infrastructures, Thailand provides a very pleasant environment to foreigners willing to work in the country. Though several industries and jobs are prohibited to foreigners, salaries for locals and expats are in the average of Southeast Asia.

10 key jobs and salaries in Thailand 2017

Thailand trade data

Thailand's economy relies a lot on export, especially for the automotive and electronics sectors as well as agricultural commodities. Though the authorities are trying to reduce this dependence, the country's economic activity is heavily impacted by its trade partners' activity.

Exports: USD 214.37 Billion (2015 Estimate)

Export Goods:

  • textiles
  • footwear
  • fishery products
  • rice
  • rubber
  • jewelry
  • automobiles
  • computers and electrical appliances

Main Export Partners: (2015 Estimate)

  • United States 11.2%
  • China 11.1%
  • Japan 9.4%
  • Hong Kong 5.5%
  • Malaysia 4.8%
  • Australia 4.6%
  • Vietnam 4.2%
  • Singapore 4.1%

Imports: USD 202.65 Billion (2015 Estimate)

Import Goods:

  • Capital and intermediate goods
  • raw materials
  • consumer goods
  • fuels

Main Import Partners: (2015 Estimate)

  • China 20.3%
  • Japan 15.4%
  • United States 6.9%
  • Malaysia 5.9%
  • UAE 4.0%

Latest business resources for Thailand

Thailand Salary Guide 2017

Thailand salary guide 2017

Whether you are looking for employees to hire or to find a job that suits your profile, knowing the salaries usually granted for certain positions, in certain industries and with a certain level of experience can be very useful. For such purpose, here is a detailed report to assess your HR cost or salary expectations in Thailand. Continue reading

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand

Gathering historic sites and rich natural parks, Thailand is home to five World Heritage Sites classified by the UNESCO. With remains of ancient capital cities, prehistoric archaeological diggings and natural parks with lush jungles, Thailand’s World Heritage Sites are just a few highlights of the country’s touristic wealth. Continue reading

Bangkok real estate overview 2016

Bangkok real estate

Thailand has the second biggest economy of Southeast Asia and its capital, Bangkok, is one of the largest cities in the world. With unique sights of monuments and Thai architecture, numerous skyscrapers and a dynamic urban development, Bangkok presents an attractive landscape for real estate developers and investors. Continue reading

Guide to doing business in Thailand 2016

Thailand has gone through some tumultuous years that have had some impact on its economy. To help investment and growth, this complete guide to doing business in Thailand updated for 2016 will guide investors and entrepreneurs in their activities, to launch and conduct business in Thailand. Continue reading

Thailand FinTech ecosystem

Thailand FinTech ecosystem

The spread of the digital disruption to more and more sectors does not spare banking and finance. In Thailand, the emergence of a new generation of financial technology – FinTech – startups spurs the development of a complete ecosystem of supporting structures, from funding and regulation to accelerators and events. Continue reading

Thailand automotive industry overview

Thailand automotive industry

The automotive sector is a major driver of the Thai economy with strong infrastructures and a vast network of small and large, local and foreign companies all along the car-production supply chain. A large hub in ASEAN and Asia, the Thai automotive industry is gearing towards a green automotive production base. Continue reading

Guide to taxes in Thailand

Taxes in Thailand

Thailand is a country with rather low taxes: a low corporate income tax, a progressive income tax and a low VAT that make the country attractive for business. Some other taxes and specific regulations are also applied to particular key sectors such as transport, banking and finance or real estate. Continue reading

Thailand business clusters incentives

Thailand business clusters incentives

To enhance the development of strategic industries in Thailand’s different regions, the Thai authorities have launched a series of policies to attract target businesses. With clusters for several sectors and throughout the country, incentives have been planned to promote industries in areas that present specific advantages. Continue reading

Top 50 companies from Thailand’s SET50

Thailand's 50 largest listed companies

The 50 largest public listed companies of Thailand, components of the SET50 index, are important actors in the economy of Thailand, Southeast Asia and beyond. With a brief presentation, sector and logo of each company, this useful list provides information and links to the company’s website and its stock quote. Continue reading

Thailand startup ecosystem

Thailand startup ecosystem

The global enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is well represented in Thailand. Benefiting from several intrinsic advantages, the land of smile is now home to a booming ecosystem supporting and revolving around startups and entrepreneurs in the tech sector as well as in several other industries. Continue reading

Thailand flag
List of the 50 companies in the Thailand SET50 index, with logo, sector and stock code