The government plans to invest 1.4 trillion baht over three years to boost the domestic economy as global financial crisis is expected to continue its impact on Thailand’s export and investment sectors, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Tuesday.
Doing business in Thailand
Infrastructure services, if quickly improved, could promote a better investment climate in Thailand. Logistic costs, for example, are reported by firms to be higher for them in 2007 compared to 2004. This is particularly true for industries that are located in regions other than Bangkok and vicinity or the East where the major markets and ports are located. They include the food processing and furniture industries. A partial explanation for the higher logistic cost was the sharp rise in diesel prices from 2004 to 2007. However, another important explanation is the increased congestion of roads and ports which added to the transport time and costs. The quality of public utility services (electricity, water, and telephone) have also declined from 2004 to 2007 as the period of service interruptions have risen. This is a reflection of the inadequacy of infrastructure services as demand from businesses have increased rapidly over the years. These service interruptions are costly for firms and will hurt Thailand’s competitiveness as other countries in the region such as China and Vietnam are quickly improving them.
The government also uses tariff measures as a tool to promote energy policy. To encourage the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel for vehicles, the government has exempted import duties of many natural gas-related tools and equipment such as bio-fuel conversion kits, natural gas containers, and chasses.
In January 2009, the overall economy in Thailand continued to contract from the same period last year, with continual large contractions in manufacturing production and export. Private consumption and investment trended downward, in line with a considerable drop in import. Furthermore, major crops production and price continued to decelerate, resulting in a slowdown in farm income. Nevertheless, tourism sector observed a smaller contraction. External stability remained sound with high international reserves as well as trade and current account surpluses following a marked decrease in import. Regarding internal stability, January’s inflation in Thailand turned negative for the first time since October 1999. Even though the unemployment rate remained low, manufacturing employment continued to decline.
For the year 2008, the Thai economy decelerated from the previous year, particularly in the last quarter where global economic downturn and internal political unrest adversely affected manufacturing production and tourism. Nonetheless, farm income in Thailand still expanded well from higher major crop production and price compared to the previous year. On the demand side, private consumption and investment declined notably in the last quarter, despite falling inflation during the second half of the year in line with lower oil prices. Both export and import expanded satisfactorily during the first three quarters. However, during the last quarter, export contracted following trading partners’ economic slowdown while import decelerated markedly in line with export and domestic demand conditions.