Thailand: A prime destination for trade

| September 30, 2017 | 0 Comments
Two-way trade between Canada and Thailand was $4.1 billion in 2016, making Thailand, whose capital, Bangkok, is pictured here, Canada's second-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia. (Photo: Board of Investment of Thailand)

Two-way trade between Canada and Thailand was $4.1 billion in 2016, making Thailand, whose capital, Bangkok, is pictured here, Canada’s second-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia. (Photo: Board of Investment of Thailand)

Thailand is a country rich in opportunities for Canadian businesses. By virtue of our strategic geographical location at the heart of Southeast Asia, our skilled workforce, extensive infrastructure and business-friendly environment, Thailand has become a prime destination for trade and investment as well as one of the top tourist destinations of the world.
Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia and the 26th largest in the world, with nominal GDP of more than $400 billion US. It is a country blessed with low inflation, low unemployment, large foreign exchange reserves and a projected growth rate of between 3.2 and 3.4 per cent this year. We are a major food-exporting country and among the world’s leaders in exports of agricultural and food products, including rice, rubber, sugar and seafood products.
At the same time, Thailand has become a “newly industrialized country” which, like Canada, has an economy strongly dependent on exports. Thailand’s manufacturing sector is led by its automotive, electronics, petrochemical and food-processing industries, among others. Alongside Canada, Thailand is one of the top automobile exporting countries in the world. We are the No. 1 producer of one-tonne trucks and No. 2 in the world in pickup truck production. We are also among the top two exporters of hard disk drives and a leading manufacturer of computer devices and integrated circuits.
Thailand has consistently ranked among the most attractive investment locales in global surveys. U.S. News and World Report, for example, ranked Thailand No. 1 for two straight years (2016 and 2017) in the category of “best country to start a business.” In 2017, we also ranked No. 7 for “best country to invest in.”
Thailand is not only a great country in which to invest and do business, but also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In 2016, more than 32 million tourists visited Thailand, with more than 240,000 visitors from Canada. Almost 60 per cent of Thailand’s tourists are return visitors, meaning that once they have visited for the first time, they want to return. This is one reason Thailand’s tourism numbers have been increasing each year, and why Bangkok was rated the most visited city in the world in 2016 by Mastercard.
Bilateral trade between Thailand and Canada is not insignificant, but there is room for expansion. Two-way trade stood at approximately $4.1 billion in 2016, making Thailand Canada’s second-largest trading partner in Southeast Asia. Of this amount, Canadian imports of Thai products were valued at $3.2 billion, while Canadian exports to Thailand stood at approximately $900 million.
Thailand’s top exports to Canada include canned seafood; rubber products; motor vehicles and parts; precious stones and jewelry; canned fruit; rice; computers and parts; microwaves; stoves and electrical appliances. Meanwhile, major Canadian exports to Thailand include paper pulp and scrap paper; metals, such as gold, silver and nickel; fertilizers and pesticides; aircraft; boilers and mechanical appliances; electrical machinery and equipment; oilseeds, grain and cereals. Considering the wide range of goods produced by both countries, there is room for both to purchase more products from each other and in greater volumes, including high-quality foods from Thailand.
The government of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha places great importance on nurturing new high-value-added industries while promoting environmentally friendly and sustainable development. Under the Thailand 4.0 Policy, the government seeks to increase Thailand’s competitiveness through science, technology and innovation and by promoting greater research and development to transform Thailand into a digital economy.
The government continues to focus on areas of strength for the Thai economy, particularly agriculture and biotechnology; food-processing for the future; medical and wellness tourism; smart electronics and next-generation automobiles. These industries will then be used as a basis for developing five future industries in which Thailand has a competitive edge. Representing the Thai economy’s “new S-Curve,” they include the digital economy; biofuels and biochemicals; comprehensive and integrated medical services; aviation and logistics and robotics.
These are all areas in which Canada has high levels of expertise and can partner with Thailand for mutual benefit. It would also be well worthwhile for the Canadian private sector to consider investing in the many large-scale infrastructure projects that the Thai government is currently implementing, particularly the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) initiative, which would make Thailand the gateway to Southeast Asia and the region at large.

Vijavat Isarabhakdi is the ambassador of Thailand. To reach him, you can emailcontact@thaiembassy.ca or phone (613) 722-4444.

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Vijavat Isarabhakdi is the ambassador of Thailand. To reach him, you can emailcontact@thaiembassy.ca or phone (613) 722-4444.

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