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Thailand Market

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Tips:MarketMarket Overview Thailand is the 27th largest export destination for the United States. Two-way trade in 2011 was

Market Overview                      

Thailand is the 27th largest export destination for the United States.  Two-way

trade in 2011 was about $35.75 billion, with $24.8 billion in Thai exports to the

U.S. and $10.9 billion in U.S. exports to Thailand. The figures represent an

increase of 12.9 percent in the value of trade between the two countries. U.S.

exports to Thailand increased by 21.7 percent, while US imports from Thailand

increased by about 9.4 percent for the same period in 2010. In Asia, Thailand

ranks as the United States’ 10th largest export destination after China, Japan,

South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

The Thai economy grew only one percent in 2011, as the devastation caused by

Thailand’s most severe flooding in 70 years curtailed economic expansion.  In

the third quarter of  2011, hundreds of thousands of homes were inundated with

water, seven large industrial parks flooded ,and many business operations

ground to a halt, displacing approximately 650,000 Thai workers.   However, full

recovery is expected by the third quarter of 2012, and the country’s economy is

expected to grow 5 percent in 2012 and 6-8 percent in 2013.  Economic growth

will be directly impacted by government spending and private investment in flood

recovery and rebuilding efforts, particularly in water management projects.     

An export-dependent economy, Thailand exported a total of $ 223 billion worth of

goods in 2011, accounting for 69 percent of its GDP.  Exports in 2011 grew 14

percent as compared to 29 percent in previous years.  This is partly due to the

flooding, which disrupted production in the automotive and electronics industries,

the top two export revenues earners for Thailand.  Together, China, Japan, the

U.S,  accounted for 32 percent of the market for Thai exports in 2011.                        

Overall prospects for the Thai economy in the near term will depend on the pace

of manufacturing recovery in flood-hit industrial estates, the extent and reach of

the government’s expansionary fiscal policy for reconstruction, and potential

threats of the global economy, particularly coming from the euro-zone debt


Market Challenges                       

Thailand’s businesses and consumers are extremely price-conscious, often

favoring lower prices over product quality or other benefits.  Exporters with

products that are competitive for reasons other than price should plan to work

with their local partner to undertake an extensive marketing strategy. 

While Thailand’s average applied MFN tariff rate is 11 percent (24 percent for the

agricultural sector and 9 percent for the industrial sector), the highest tariff rates

apply to imports competing with locally produced goods, often leading to even

further price pressures for U.S. exporters hoping to succeed in the market. 

Furthermore, Thailand has preferential trade agreements with such countries as

Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India. U.S. firms with direct

competitors from those countries could face additional price pressures.


Corruption and lack of transparency in government procurement tenders, as well

as widespread piracy of intellectual property rights, are still major concerns for

Chinese companies.

Export and Import

The main export products are: motor vehicles and spare parts, computers and parts, integrated circuit boards, electrical appliances, primary plastics, chemicals, petrochemical products, jewelry, clothing, shoes, rubber, furniture, processing seafood and canned food, rice, cassavaand so on. 2009 computers and parts, motor vehicles and spare parts, electrical appliances, primary metals, plastics, petrochemical products export growth were 9.3%, 7.9%, 7.0%, 4.9%, 4.5% and 4.4%, respectively.

The main imported products: machinery and electronic products and spare parts, industrial machinery, electronic products, spare parts, auto spare parts, construction materials, crude oil, paper machinery, iron and steel, integrated circuit boards, chemical products, computer equipment and spare parts, household electrical appliances, jewelry gold jewelry, metal products, fodder, fruits and vegetables. Crude oil, machinery and electronic products, industrial machinery, iron and steel, circuit boards, computer equipment and spare parts in 2009, growth of 13.5%, 9.3%, 7.1%, 5.1%, 3.4%, 3.0%, respectively. (Source: National Bank of Thailand)



Thailand's labor force was estimated at 36.9 million in 2007. About 49% were employed in agriculture, 37% in services, and 14% in industry. In 2005 women constituted 48 percent of the labor force and held an increasing share of professional jobs. Less than 4% of the workforce is unionized, but 11% of industrial workers and 50% of state enterprise employees are unionized.

Although laws applying to private-sector workers' rights to form and join trade unions were unaffected by 19 September 2006, military coup and its aftermath, workers who participate in union activities continue to have inadequate legal protection. According to the U.S. Department of State, union workers are inadequately protected. Thailand's unemployment rate lies at 1.5% percent of the labor force.


Keyword: Thailand Market

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