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Thailand's Rankings

Thailand’s Rankings

Thailand has been and continues to be one of the most successful countries in the region for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), due to its numerous advantages for foreign investors seeking to do business in Asia. It provides an attractive business climate which has consistently received decades of support for private investment from successive Thai governments, all of which have realized the important role of the private sector in creating and maintaining Thailand's economic growth and prosperity along with its technological development. 

In particular, the Thai government's extremely positive stance toward foreign investors means that, unless the special incentives offered by the Board of Investment (BOI) are being applied for, no prior government approval is necessary for making investments in Thailand, and most sectors of the economy are open to foreign investors. Thailand continues to improve its attractiveness for FDI through many government initiatives which seek to make the country more accessible to those seeking to expand their presence in Asia while at the same time reducing the amount of “red tape” required for beginning or expanding such business activities. This has resulted in a steady improvement in the country's overall rankings as published by independent observers, some of which are highlighted here.

When asked to choose the Thailand's top 5 attractiveness indicators for the IMD's World Competitiveness Executive Opinion Survey, Thailand's business friendly environment consistently was given as the first and most important factor. The other factors listed as most favorable included a dynamic economy, open and positive attitudes, a reliable infrastructure, and competitive costs.

A few quick facts about Thailand:

With a land area of 513,000 square kilometers, and a population of 66.41 million, Thailand's GDP in 2018 was US$505 billion, with a GDP per capita of US$7,445.4, showing a real GDP growth of 4.1%. Consumer price inflation was a modest 1.1%, unemployment a low 1.05%, with a labor force of 38.43 million (2018 data). Its current account balance was 5.6% of GDP, with direct investment stocks inward exceeding US$222 billion, according to UNCTAD's 2019 World Investment Report. It was rated as the 26th best country in the world overall in News and World Reports 2019 Best Countries report, which evaluated 80 countries based on 75 metrics such as quality of life, economic influence, power, education and eco-friendliness, among others.

According to the World Economic Forum, Thailand's Global Competitive Index 4.0 ranking improved to 38th place (out of 140 countries) in 2018, up from 40th place a year earlier, while the World Bank Group's 2020 Ease of Doing Business report ranking Thailand 21st out of 190 countries, up six places from the previous year. Among areas in this report which showed the greatest improvement was a reduction in the number of steps required and amount of time needed for obtaining construction permits, and the score for ease of shareholder suits that in turn helped improve the ranking for protecting minority investors. Thailand's topical score for getting electricity was an outstanding 98.7 (out of 100), which earned it 6th position in that category.

Digital Infrastructure Development

The government of Thailand has been emphasizing its digital development for a number of years through its focus on the Thailand 4.0 economic model, which seeks to move the country past previous economic development models which focused on agriculture (1.0), light industry (2.0) and advanced industry (3.0). It seeks to transform Thailand into a “value-based” digital economy. The four main objectives of Thailand 4.0 are economic prosperity, social well-being, raising human values and protecting the environment. In the case of digital infrastructure, this has translated into major advances in technology, particularly in support of smartphones and broadband connectivity. Thailand has invested Baht 15 billion to launch a country-wide village broadband network to provide affordable high-speed internet to over 25,000 villages across Thailand. Another major development project is the Digital Park Thailand, which is located on 284 acres in Chonburi province, on the country's eastern seaboard coast. The park supports economic development by facilitating access to the submarine cable system, landing station and data center. 

Thailand is also connected directly to the AAE-1 (Asia-Africa-Europe 1) submarine cable, which recently upgraded its cable to use state-of-the-art 200 Gbps transmission technology for connecting Europe, the Middle-East, India and on to Hong Kong. Additionally, the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) has established the Software Park Thailand in Nonthaburi to support and strengthen Thailand's software entrepreneurs competitiveness by promoting technology transfers, providing courses for the training of IT professionals, supporting local and international collaborations, and providing office facilities and rooms for conferences, meeting and training for software companies.

Medicine and Healthcare

According to CEOWORLD's 2019 survey of 89 countries worldwide, Thailand's healthcare was ranked sixth best in the world, beating out many renowned European countries like Spain, France and Belgium as well as most other Asian countries except for Japan and South Korea. It scored 78.72 on the Health Care Index, which is a statistical analysis of the overall quality of a country's healthcare infrastructure, professional staff competence, cost, medicine availability and government readiness.

A recent report of research by John Hopkins University also ranked Thailand sixth best among 195 countries providing the strongest health security, as was reported at the Global Health Security Agenda Steering Group Meeting in November of 2019. Thailand was the only developing country ranked among the global top ten, and the first among Asian countries, scoring a total of 73.2 points out of 100. Supporting Thailand's medical profession across the country are 23 accredited institutions providing medical instruction; while there is a reported average of 29.3 health workers per 10,000 population nationwide, according to the World Health Organization. With ASEAN's focus on enhancing intra-regional worker mobility, the size of the medical workforce is expected to further increase as professionals in the medical industry, including nurses, dental practitioners and medical practitioners, mobilize more freely within the ASEAN community. In addition to Thailand’s quality medical schools, the country also emphasizes research, development, and innovation through various governmental institutions, such as BIOTEC, the National Innovation Agency, and the Thailand Science Park.

Thailand – Kitchen of the World

In 2017, Thailand was ranked 12th worldwide for all agricultural output. It was the 6th largest producer of rice and the 4th largest producer of sugar globally. It was the top ranked producer of natural and synthetic rubber worldwide. Much of this production was ultimately exported. According to the National Food Institute, in 2016 Thailand was ranked first in cassava, canned tuna and canned pineapple exports and second for both rice and sugar exports in 2017. Additionally, there were approximately 9,000 food processing companies in Thailand, whose total contribution account for roughly 52% of Thailand's total food exports, and nearly 15% of Thailand's manufacturing output. As one of the largest net food exporting countries in the world, its food trade balance reached a record value of US$16.7 billion in 2016.

Manufacturing and Economic Statistics

Year on year, Thailand's rankings have improved in many areas. Its trade surplus as a percentage of GDP was ranked 9th globally, and its current account surplus earned it a 10th place ranking. Its ranking rose to the 12th largest for agricultural output, while Thailand's manufacturing output was ranked 18th worldwide. It was ranked the world's 19th largest importer, and the 24th largest exporter. Industrial output qualified Thailand for a 23rd place ranking, Also of note was the improvement in ranking for earnings from services and income, moving from 27th largest to 24th. Overall, Thailand's economy was ranked 26th in size, and 27th for services output. Despite world-wide economic headwinds, Thailand's economy has continued to move forward, with application requests for new factory openings totaling 2,889, creating new employment opportunities for almost 85,000 workers in 2019 according to the Industry Ministry.

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