Economic Trends/Outlook in Thailand

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Economic Overview

Thailand is Southeast Asia's second largest economy (behind Indonesia), and 4th richest nation, according to per capita GDP, after Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. It functions as an anchor economy for the neighboring developing countries like Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Due to its openness to foreign trade, the country was hit hard by the international financial crisis and entered into a recession in 2009 (-2.2%) for the first time since the Asian crisis of 1997-98. Estimated at 7.5%, there was a quick and dynamic growth in 2010, driven by the resumption of international trade, household incentives and investment projects (infrastructure).

With the recovery under way, the authorities will eliminate fiscal and monetary incentive measures adopted in order to combat the crisis. The country was also involved in a stimulus program called “Thailand: Investing for strength”. This program will go on until 2012, with a budget of around 30 billion euros, which should allow for the creation of about 1.5 million jobs and stimulate private consumption. Mid-term, the government is looking to strengthen infrastructure and develop the finance sector, in order to ensure a dynamic and sustainable recovery.
Significant progress has been made in terms of development: poverty has decreased sharply during the last decades. In spite of the crisis’ impact on the country, unemployment rate has remained low (1.4%).

Main Indicators 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
GDP (billions USD) 263.71e 318.85e 332.47e 367.88e 397.99e
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -2.3e 7.8e 4.0e 4.5e 4.7e
GDP per Capita (USD) 4,151e 4,992e 5,174e 5,691e 6,120e
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -2.1e -2.3e -2.4e -1.7e -1.4e
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 45.2e 44.1e 43.7e 44.0e 43.9e
Inflation Rate (%) -0.8e 3.3e 4.0e 3.4e 2.3e
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 1.5e 1.0e 1.2e 1.2e 1.2e
Current Account (billions USD) 20.29e 7.44e 1.10e -0.80e -
Current Account (in % of GDP) 7.7e 2.5e 0.3e -0.2e -

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database

Note: (e) Estimated Data


Main Sectors of Industry

The Thai economy is heavily based on agriculture, which contributes around 10% of the GDP and employs almost 40% of the active population. The country is one of the leading producers and exporters of rice and also has rubber, sugar, corn, jute, cotton and tobacco as major crops. Fishing is an important activity as Thailand is a major exporter of farmed shrimp. However, agriculture's contribution to the GDP has relatively declined, while the exports of goods and services has increased.

The manufacturing sector accounts for just under half of the GDP and is well diversified. The main Thai industries are electronics, steel and automotive. Thailand is an assembly hub for international car brands. Electrical components and appliances, computers, cement production, furniture and plastic products are also important sectors. The textile sector employs around 25% of the active population but is no longer as dynamic as tourism which has become the main source of foreign exchange.

The tertiary sector, including tourism and financial services, contributes about half of the GDP.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 41.7 20.7 37.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 11.6 43.3 45.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) -0.5 -4.2 -0.4

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

For more detailed background on Industries in Thailand, click here.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Moderately free
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2011 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the Country Risk Analysis Provided By Ducroire.


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