Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities
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Thailand’s economic recovery continues in 2023, thanks to a rebounding tourism sector and domestic consumption. The Bank of Thailand forecasted 3.6 percent growth for the Thai economy this year, rising to 3.8 percent in 2024. However, economic uncertainty exists due to high household debt, inflation, and the spillover effects of political tensions. 

Thailand is projected to receive 25-30 million international tourists in 2023, injecting $43.5 billion into the economy.  According to the Medical Tourism Index 2020-2021, conducted by the International Healthcare Research Center, Thailand’s medical tourism industry ranks 5th out of 46 countries.  Medical expenses in Thai hospitals are 50 percent to 80 percent lower than those in the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Thai doctors are knowledgeable and well-trained.  Many doctors are qualified from medical schools in the United States and the U.K. and provide professional care to their patients.  Thailand has the 4th greatest number of JCI accreditation-certified hospitals (59 hospitals), after U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, and Brazil.

Over the next few years, accelerated spending on government-supported megaprojects is expected to boost the economy and improve infrastructure networks through public investment and public-private partnerships.  The megaprojects include road, railway, sea, airports, and a dry port for container projects such as:  

  • Thai-Chinese high-speed train project
  • Eastern Economic Corridor projects, including U-Tapao Airport, Map Ta Phut Port Phase 3, Laem Chabang Port Phrase 3
  • Royal Irrigation Department’s development of a new canal through five provinces
  • The State Railways of Thailand’s projects to utilize electrical vehicles battery for shunter locomotives, diesel multiple units, and new freight cars replacement

Since the pandemic in 2020, Thailand has swiftly embraced digital transformation in both its public and private sectors. This shift has been encouraged by government support aiming to establish Thailand as a regional ICT hub.  As a result, the ICT market has grown, driven by technology adoption across industries, increased smartphone and internet usage, and a booming e-commerce sector.  This growth has attracted a competitive landscape with both local and international players like Huawei, ZTE, Intel, Ericsson, Cisco, Samsung, and HPE vying for market share.

Regarding telecommunication spectrum management, the telecom regulator plans to auction the 3,500 megahertz range in the next two years.  With an estimated compound annual growth rate of seven percent projected from 2023 to 2028, the ICT market’s promising path underscores the significance of digitalization in driving Thailand’s economic and technological advancement.

Thailand is preparing its National Energy Plan (NEP), a strategy that envisions the future of Thailand’s energy system through the 2040s.  The NEP will provide the development policy direction in the energy sector for both government agencies and private companies.  The NEP 2023, awaiting approval by the new cabinet, is expected to increase renewable energy generating capacity from the current approximately 12 percent to over 50 percent to achieve Thailand’s carbon neutral and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and 2065, respectively.

Thailand’s food and beverage industry contributes significantly to the country’s economy.  The country aims to be one of the world’s top ten processed food exporters by 2027.  Major food exports include rice, canned tuna, sugar, meat, cassava products, and canned pineapple.  The value of Thailand’s food exports was $38.8 billion in 2022, while the value of Thailand’s imports of food ingredients was $3.3 billion.  With rising demand for processed foods and new product development, there are significant opportunities for U.S. food ingredients in the Thai food processing sector.

Thailand’s military and defense equipment market is also attractive, and the Thai military is the primary driver of the defense market in Thailand.  In 2022, Thailand was ranked 103rd out of 163 countries globally on the Institute for Economic & Peace’s Global Peace Index.  Thailand faces national-level security threats, including border disputes and violence in the country’s southern region.  As a result, demand for military and defense equipment is expected to rise.  Under the 2023 national budget, the Ministry of Defense has been granted a budget equivalent to USD 5.8 billion, which accounts for 6.19 percent of the total national budget but decreases by 3.2 percent from the 2022 national budget.  Since the local defense industry is largely undeveloped, Thailand highly depends on foreign suppliers to procure military equipment.  Thailand’s defense equipment imports have continued to increase yearly since 2013 to modernize the country’s armed forces.  The United States is one of the country’s most significant sources of defense equipment.