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Last updated : Nov 2009
Thailand Business
Thailand Business Overview - TravelPuppy.com
Thailand Economy

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.

Office 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.

Commercial Information

The following organisations can offer additional information:

Department of Export Promotion, 22/77 Rachadapisek Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900 (telephone: (2) 511 5066; fax: (2) 512 2670; email: iticdep@depthai.go.th)

Thai Chamber of Commerce, 150 Rajbopit Road, 2146, 10200 Bangkok (telephone: (2) 622 1860; fax: (2) 225 3372; email: echam@thaiechamber.com).

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: info@tica.or.th).
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