Gateway to Asia
Thailand enjoys a strategic location and serves as a gateway into the heart of Asia – home to what is today the largest growing economic market.
The country also offers convenient trade with China, India and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and easy access into the Greater Mekong sub-region, where newly emerging markets offer great business potential.
Hub of ASEAN
Thailand was one of the founding members of ASEAN and has been instrumental in the formation and development of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). AFTA entered into force on 1 January 2010 for the six original ASEAN (ASEAN-6) members (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Brunei) thereby reducing import duties to zero; the so-called CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) will follow suit in 2015.
Thailand is ideally located at the crossroads of Asia, with easy access to the region’s dynamic markets, including its own booming domestic consumer market of 67 million people. Thailand has long been a proponent of free and fair trade and its attractiveness as a production base for leading international companies is enhanced by a number of free trade agreements, and Thailand is certain to be a beneficiary of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will enter into force in 2015.
Social and political stability
Thailand is a foreigner friendly and welcoming Buddhist country. The country’s form of government is a constitutional monarchy, with a high reverence for the Thai Monarchy, and devotion to the teachings of Buddhism. And although the vast majority of the people in Thailand are Buddhist, all religions are welcome, and His Majesty the King is the patron of all religions.
Economically, this country of 67 million people is characterized by steady growth, strong exports and a vibrant domestic consumer market. Abundant natural resources and a skilled and cost-effective work force help attract foreign investors, and enable them to prosper and develop industry in Thailand.
In addition to a growing highway system that now connects not only every province in Thailand, but also to neighboring countries of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, Thailand also offers:
- 7 international airports
- Modern city-wide mass transit
- 3G/WiFi and broadband access
- 6 deep sea ports and 2 international river ports, including containers, tank farms and liquid jetties
Thailand’s development plans for 2012 – 2022 include a high speed rail network that will connect north, south, east and west of Thailand, as well as to southern China. The mass transit system is being expanded into the suburbs and air and marine transportation will be further strengthened to meet the pace of growing demand.
The country’s well-defined investment policies focus on liberalization and encourage free trade. Foreign investments, especially those that contribute to the development of skills, technology and innovation are actively promoted by the government. Thailand consistently ranks among the most attractive investment locations in international surveys, and the World Bank’s 2014 Ease of Doing Business report places Thailand as the 18th easiest country in the world (and fifth-ranked country in Southeast Asia) in which to do business.
Likewise, the United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD) ranks Thailand as the 8th most attractive host economy in the world (UNCTAD 2012-2014)
Government support and incentives
Numerous government agencies support investors. Through the Board of Investment, the government offers a range of tax incentives, support services and import duty exemptions or reductions to an extensive list of promoted activities.
Companies receiving investment promotion privileges from the Board of Investment are not subject to foreign equity restrictions in the manufacturing sector, and there are no local content requirements nor export requirements, as Thailand’s investment regime is in total compliance with WTO regulations.
The Board of Investment also coordinates the activity of the One-Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits, which enables foreign staff of BOI-promoted companies to obtain work permits and long-term visas within three hours or less.
The BOI also administers the One Start One Stop Investment Center, which opened in November 2009 to facilitate a full range of services and streamline investment procedures by bringing representatives from more than 20 government agencies under one roof.
In addition to the activities of the BOI, other government organizations, such as the Department of Export Promotion and international chambers of commerce, provide invaluable support and a host of other important services.
Long–established and newly emerging industries
With steady economic development and strong support industries, the country’s industrial production has grown and diversified rapidly both in long–established and newly emerging industries.
The government has emphasized attracting investment in six sectors that have been determined to be key to the country’s developmental objectives. These six target industries include: agriculture and agro-industry, alternative energy, automotive, electronics and ICT, fashion, and value-added services including entertainment, healthcare and tourism.
Friendly and rich culture
Thailand has gained a well-deserved reputation throughout the world for its gracious hospitality. The friendliness of its people and the diverse nature of Thai culture make visitors feel safe and at home in Thailand. Recently, 2013 Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Travel Awards announced Bangkok as “Best Leisure Destination in Asia-Pacific” while the city is also ranked second after Singapore for its “Best Business City in Southeast Asia” as well.
Education and healthcare services
The education standards in Thailand are accepted by many international examining bodies, and a great number of international schools and colleges offer world-class education, while its universities are outstanding.
In terms of healthcare, the country has developed an excellent reputation globally, due to its internationally-certified doctors and medical staff, and modern facilities and equipment. It is so good that one of the fastest-rising tourism sectors is medical tourism, with international patients visiting Thailand to take advantage of Thailand’s world-class and extremely affordable health care system.