From the mid-90s until the beginning
of the next century, all economic forecasts put
Thailand on a steady upward course with annual growth
remaining strong around 8 percent and inflation
well under control at approximately 5 percent. Stronger
emphasis on sustainable development and science
and technology are evident as Thailand joins the
ranks of Newly Industrialized Economies. As of 1994,
Thailand has a domestic market of around 60 million
people, with rapidly increasing purchasing power
(per capita income US$ 2,500, and is projected to
reach $ 3,860 by the year 2000).
Continuing liberalization of the
tax and tariff structures, an open door policy towards
foreign investment, and macroeconomic stability
will keep Thailand a favoured investment location.
Increasing political stabilization and a trend towards
regional cooperation within ASEAN and the countries
of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region will attract more
worldwide attention to the region as a whole.
Thailand's role in this new regional
order will be crucial, as its strengths evolve beyond
being merely a cost-effective labour platform to
greater industrial capability, diversity, and depth,
and its entrepreneurial leadership develops.
Thailand is well-positioned to
serve as a regional base for investment in the emerging
economies of the region. The government is actively
forging linkages with the countries of the Greater
Mekong and Thailand's newly-established offshore
banking facility, the Bangkok International Banking
Facilities (BIBF) will further enhance trade and
investment between Thailand and her regional neighbours.
With the successful completion
of the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations, the country
is on course to continue as an export powerhouse;
its rapidly growing domestic market is also gaining
importance as an attraction for foreign investors.
As Thailand begins its ascent
up the value-added ladder, it is starting to produce,
domestically, a greater share of the capital goods,
parts, and components that fuel the manufacturing
engine. Tremendous investment opportunities are
implicit in this process.
The new model for what is possible
in Thailand may be seen on the country's Eastern
Seaboard, where one of the developing world's most
ambitious integrated development plans is currently
being implemented. By the year 2000, access to two
new airports, three deep seaports, a global transpark,
and rail system will support investments in a full
range of industrial activities. Now that the large
scale investment in a number of basic industries
such as petrochemicals and steel manufacturing are
on stream, supporting industries and services are
As Thailand consolidates its current
phase of development, its position in the new economic
world order is stronger than ever before.