Thailand ranked 3rd in ASEAN, 9th among 40 Asia-pacific countries and 42nd in the World on the most recent on Economic Freedom index. Singapore tops the list for the second consecutive year, followed by New Zealand and Australia.

The report, by American conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, stated that the Thai economy registered its highest-ever score in this year’s index, putting the country within easy reach of the ranks of the mostly free.

The government has made remarkable progress in expanding economic freedom, the report added.

Thailand has a business freedom index of 85.3 out of 100. This is a big improvement over last year, which helped to increase the country’s overall score to 69.7, a 0.3 point jump from last year.

The progress will, however, be impeded without comprehensive reforms, to reduce corruption and improve judicial effectiveness.

As for rule of law in Thailand, the report stated that the laws protecting property rights and contractual rights are generally well enforced.

“The cost of transferring registered property, however, is much higher than the regional average. The independent judiciary is generally effective, but courts are politicized, and corruption is common in the judicial system. Corruption, bribery, cronyism, and nepotism have been widespread and are viewed as a normal part of doing business.”

As a result of this analysis, Thailand received a score of 48.1 in Judicial Effectiveness, and 45.1 in Government Integrity. These two areas seem to be the weakest areas in the country.

Government Size and footprint

The top individual income tax rate is 35 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 20 percent. Other taxes include value-added and property taxes.

The overall tax burden equals 14.9 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has amounted to 21.6 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years, and budget deficits have averaged 0.4 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 41.1 percent of GDP.

Open markets

Trade Freedom: 80.0

Investment Freedom: 55.0

Financial Freedom: 60.0

Thailand has 13 preferential trade agreements in force. The trade-weighted average tariff rate is 5.0 percent, and 240 nontariff measures are in effect. To facilitate greater foreign investment, measures such as abolishing regulations on minimum capital for foreign firms have been taken, but foreign ownership in some sectors remains capped. The financial system has undergone restructuring, and the stock exchange is active and open to foreign investo

Source : Economic Freedom index

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