Developmentalism and Dependency in Southeast Asia: The Case of the Automotive Industry

By Jason P. Abbott | Go to book overview

5

Thailand: from a bureaucratic polity to the politics of corruption

Introduction

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s Thailand was Asia's rising star. Talk of a fifth tiger and the cherished Newly Industrialising Country status abounded (Krongkaew, 1995; Hewison, 1996), 1 and economic growth averaged close to double-digit figures (see Table 5.1). Over the period 1985-91 Thailand doubled its share of world export trade, rising from forty-fourth position among the world's trading nations to thirty-fourth in 1987 and twenty-eighth in 1991. Along with such growth came the telltale sign of deepening industrialisation, the growth of manufactured exports as a proportion of total exports. In 1960 manufactured products had been less than 2 per cent of the value of total exports, by 1980 they had risen to 32.3 per cent, and by 1992, 77.8 per cent. In addition the range of goods exported diversified away from traditional raw material/agricultural industries, although these remain important (see Table 5.2).

Historically, Thailand is unique among Southeast Asian states, and among developing world countries more generally in that it escaped colonisation

Table 5.1 Thailand's economic growth 1981-2000

Year

GDP growth rate (%)

Year

GDP growth rate (%)

1981

6.3

1991

8.1

1982

4.1

1992

7.6

1983

7.3

1993

7.5

1984

7.1

1994

8.0

1985

3.5

1995

8.6

1986

4.9

1996

5.9

1987

9.5

1997

-1.4

1988

13.2

1998

-10.8

1989

12.2

1999

4.2

1990

11.2

2000

4.3

Source: Business Monitor International, 1997, Department of Trade and Industry, 1997, Bangkok Bank, 2001.

-98-

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