The Thai Economy: Uneven Development and Internationalisation

The Thai Economy: Uneven Development and Internationalisation

The Thai Economy: Uneven Development and Internationalisation

The Thai Economy: Uneven Development and Internationalisation

Synopsis

Looking al the origins and consequences of the accelerated growth of the Thai economy since the mid-1980s and its economic development since the mid-nineteenth century. The Thai Economy also explores the factors that set Thailand apart from other Asian, African and Latin American countries.

Excerpt

Since this book was originally planned, during the mid-1980s, Thailand has undergone remarkable changes. the original intention was to explain the Kingdom’s remarkable uneven pattern of development, unusual non-colonial mode of incorporation into the global economy and generally limited appeal to TNCs (Transnational Corporations) and foreign investors. These latter issues are compounded by the economic and political uncertainty that characterised Thailand during the early 1980s—the imposition, and apparently limited success, of formal structural adjustment under the auspices of the imf and World Bank. Against this had to be set signs of economic recovery and indications that Thailand might prove the ‘dark horse’ of Pacific Asia. This view appeared to be vindicated when, during the late 1980s, the Kingdom began to experience a period of growth and structural change, and became a regional investment ‘hot spot’, particularly for labour-intensive manufacturing activities decanting from Japan and the Asian NIEs (Newly Industrialising Economies) in search of lower cost locations. These changed internal and external situations necessitated a substantial change in both the structure and emphasis of the book. However, during the early 1990s signs began to emerge that behind Thailand’s remarkable growth a series of long-term problems were emerging. Rising costs, lack of skilled labour, overloaded infrastructure, congestion and pollution, combined with the opening of such lower cost locations as Vietnam and the prc to undermine Thailand’s comparative advantage in labour-intensive manufacturing, while inhibiting the transition to more skill- and capital-intensive activities. in the absence of rapid and perhaps radical policy changes it seems likely that there would be a slowing of growth. the timing and degree, however, remained unclear. During 1996 there was a sharp slowing of the rate of growth of exports, though the impact of this on economic growth was masked by rapid expansion of the property and financial sectors. As the manuscript was being finalised for publication, a major financial crisis erupted. This has necessitated some late additions to Chapter 8. the critical question is whether the 1997 crisis heralds a major slow-down of the Thai economy and,

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