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Economy, business and real estate in Thailand: what makes the “land of smiles”?

When choosing a direction for real estate investments, it is important to assess the potential of the country as a whole. Indeed, without success in industry and business, there will be no international investment, without them – not to develop the infrastructure, without it – not to achieve impressive results in the field of hospitality … And without tourists – not to get good rental income.

This logical chain is conditional (there are more connections and they are more complicated), but the principle is clear. The long-term success of real estate investments largely depends on how the country copes with global challenges.

Let’s look from these positions on Thailand, which is now promoting the rules of the game that are unthinkable for European markets – apartments from $ 100,000 with guaranteed income up to 8-9% per annum. Will local developers be able to provide such conditions?

In April 2019, Bloomberg published a fresh ranking of the world’s economies. The name of the report is loud – “misfortune index” or in English Misery Index. However, this is the case when populist formulations are really serious analytical work. The rating methodology is based on the works of the American economist and adviser to the 36th President of the United States – Arthur Ouken.

The logic is as follows. A country in which strong unemployment and high inflation are in no way can be called “healthy” from a financial point of view. And vice versa: if people do not have problems with employment, and wages grow faster than prices for goods and services, the economy can be considered “happy”.

Analysts studied 62 countries of the world and came to curious conclusions. Two years in a row the first place in the ranking goes to Thailand.
The high position of Switzerland, Japan, Singapore is unlikely to surprise anyone. But Thailand … Surely, many people think that apart from tourism in the “land of smiles” there is nothing profitable, the population lives poorly, infrastructure and even more so modern technologies leave much to be desired … It turns out that this is not the case for a long time.

Key indicators
In all respects, Thailand is no longer a “third world country,” but, as economists put it, a state with above-average income, an open and export-oriented economy.

Look at the dynamics of GDP. Stable growth – both in history and in forecasts.
In terms of economy, Thailand is second in South-East Asia (after Indonesia). According to preliminary estimates, the GDP for 2018 has already exceeded $ 490 billion. On the contrary, the poverty level is rapidly decreasing.

The unemployment rate is 1%, inflation in 2018 is 0.9%. The average salary in the country is $ 450, while at the same time qualified specialists and managers have about $ 1000.

Industry and Export
And – importantly – the economy of Thailand is balanced. That is, it does not depend on one industry, and therefore does not risk collapsing in the event of local crises (for example, a fall in oil prices or an outflow of Chinese tourists).

These parameters are monitored by Economic Complexity Index. In the ranking, Thailand ranks 23rd in the world as the largest exporter, and 32nd as a country with a balanced diversified economy.

And the key export items are high-tech. Components for computers, cars and spare parts for them, integrated circuits, telecommunications equipment, household appliances and electronics …

In February 2018, the Thai government announced a large-scale program, the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Within the framework of the project, in the next five years, the state and international investors will invest $ 43 billion in the country. Again, priority is given to modern technologies: bioeconomics (production of eco-products, natural cosmetics, bioplastics), innovations (robotics, smart technologies for the automotive industry), and logistics and related industries, tourism and wellness industries.

For more information on large-scale investment projects in Thailand, visit Thailand Board of Investment (English).

Agriculture
The climate and natural wealth of Thailand – its important advantage. For a long time the country was agrarian. Now this sector accounts for less than 10% of GDP (about 40% of the country’s income comes from industry, another 50% from services, including tourism). But agriculture still employs about 40% of the population.

Thailand is one of the world’s leading exporters of rice, sugar, cassava (a tuber-like tropical plant that resembles potatoes in taste), a major supplier of fresh and canned fish, shrimps, all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The country actively exports chicken and meat. By the way, recently the largest producer of poultry, broilers and pork – the Thai company “CP Foods” – announced plans to expand its business in Russia.

In Thailand’s major hypermarkets, Macro, Big C, Lotus, there is a very large selection of chicken and pork, as well as sausages, ham, bacon and other meat products. Prices – affordable, quality – at a height. But if you want good beef, lamb – we take imported, from Australia or New Zealand.

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