Thailand Boost as Exports Surge
Jones, Sarah, Business Asia
Thailand is fast positioning itself as the stand out economy in South-East Asia, thanks to a boost in domestic consumption and a strong performance in exports.
Today, Thailand's economic growth is only second to that of China, and the Government has raised its forecast for economic growth this year to as much as 6.2 per cent, the fastest in eight years.
Cameron McMillan, Austrade's Bangkok based senior trade commissioner, says Thailand is trying to position itself as a major manufacturing base in South East Asia.
"And they are doing a pretty good lob of it," he said. "For example, 15 of the largest automotive manufacturers are positioned in Thailand at the moment."
However, McMillan also said Thailand was not just prepared to have foreign companies come in and manufacture, they wanted more out of it.
"They really want to learn along the road," he said.
"Exporters really have got to negotiate a package, which includes technology, transfer and training," he said.
"The government is adamant they are going to be players in manufacturing, but they are also adamant the economy and the population is going to learn and become more skilled along the road."
Thailand's exports surged 11 per cent in the second quarter, and according to the country's Commerce Minister Adisai Bodharamick, exports for August probably rose 10 per cent to a record US$6.9 billion ($10.26 billion).
The Minister said he was confident Thailand's exports would remain around the US$6 million level for the remainder of the year, and indicted he may raise full-year export growth forecasts from the current 10.6 per cent level.
Austrade's McMillan says while the last couple of years have been tough for Thai exporters, today's figures are close to the 20 per cent export levels experienced pre the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
McMillan says the Thai Government has quickly recognised that exports, internationalisation and a close association with its trading partners are its future.
"Everywhere the Prime Minister (Thaksin Shinawatra) goes he talks about the special trading arrangements. …