The economy of Thailand grew very quickly between the 1980s and
early to mid-1990s; an average yearly GDP growth was 8.5% from 1990
to 1996. Actual aspects of its economic performance during this
time gave cause for concern, particularly the foreign debt, weakness
in the taxation system and the shortcomings of Thailand's financial
establishments. The economy was already slowing down when the Asian
financial crisis struck in the late summer of 1997.
When Thailand assumed its position as one of the Asian tiger economies,
agriculture had been the chief economic activity:
this has declined somewhat in relative importance as the industrial
and service base grew and developed. Agriculture
endures important nonetheless: the major crops are rice (Thailand
is the world's major rice exporter), sugar, maize, cassava, rubber,
cotton and tobacco. Fishing is also big, particularly
for prawns, which have become 1 of Thailand's main exports. Another
significant resource, timber, was very profitable
until the introduction of logging ban in 1989. Unlawful logging
still exists today, particularly on the Thai-Myanmar border where
some of the best quality timber may be found.
Thailand's other leading natural resources are minerals
and gemstones. They are the most profitable and there are
plenty of unlawful activities in this industry. There are also principal
deposits of lead and tin, copper, gold, zinc and iron, and rare
metal ores comprising antimony, manganese and tungsten. Natural
gas and oil fields have been discovered
offshore and are currently being developed. In the industrial
sector, Thailand manufactures cement, jewellery, electronics
and refined sugar; there is also a considerable oil refinery. In
the service sector, the country has a very large
tourism industry and there are more than 8 million
arrivals every year and worth about $7 billion to the economy. Thai
companies are also active in transport, telecommunications, media
and finance. Thailand belongs to the Association of South
East Asian Nations (and as such will participate in the
planned Free Trade Area), the Asian Development Bank
and the Colombo Plan (a co-operative trading body
covering South Asia).
Thailand's largest trading partners are Japan,
Singapore, the USA, Germany and Hong Kong.
Most in senior management speak English but in very small companies,
or those situated outside Bangkok, English is less well known. Most
businesses of substantial size prefer appointments. Business cards
are essential and punctuality is advisable.
hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5.00 pm.
Government office hours: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 12
noon and 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm.
The following organisations can offer additional information:
of Export Promotion, 22/77 Rachadapisek Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok
10900 (telephone: (2) 511 5066; fax: (2) 512 2670; email: email@example.com)
of Commerce, 150 Rajbopit Road, 2146, 10200 Bangkok (telephone:
(2) 622 1860; fax: (2) 225 3372; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Conferences and Conventions
Thailand Incentive and Convention Association
counts 191 members representing all areas of business interested
in conventions and incentives. Members include airlines, hotels,
publishing houses, advertising agencies, cruise operators, travel
agents, lawyers, equipment suppliers and banks. The goal of the
association is to provide help with every possible query that an
organiser may have, and provide practical assistance. It publishes
an annual guide, a quarterly newsletter, a gift-ideas catalogue
and a social programme.
The Bangkok Convention
Centre is the largest venue in the country, but there are
many other locations (including hotels) in Bangkok and elsewhere.
Further information can be obtained from the Thailand
Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), 99/7 Ladprao Soi
8, Ladyao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900 (telephone: (2) 938 6590; fax:
(2) 938 6594-5; email: email@example.com).