From being an agricultural nation, today Thailand is moving to join the rank of the newly-industrialized countries (NICs). Manufacturing has now become the leading factor in Thai economy. Due to its abundance of natural resources, fertile land and ideal growing conditions, Thailand’s exports have enjoyed an impressive growth in recent years.
Apparently, in the past 10-20 years Thailand was an exporter of traditional products, now the country has shifted from being a main exporter of agricultural and labour-intensive products to skill-intensive and sophisticated products involving higher technological development. Actually, this successful shift was partly due to the inflow of foreign investment especially from Japan. There in a trend that new waves of foreign investment will continue to flood into Thailand.
Today, among Thailand’s top manufactured export products are : textiles and garments, gems and jewellery, leather goods and footwear, computer and components, integrated circuits, plastic products, toys, electronics and electrical appliances, and automobiles. The position of Thailand’s export products in the world market is new;
- The world’s largest exporter of canned pineapple and canned tuna,
- The world’s number one exporter of rice, rubber, chilled fish and prawns,
- The world’s largest exporter of precious stones,
- The world’s second largest exporter of sugar and tapioca products,
- The world’s third largest exporter of hard disks and integrated circuits.
- The world’s fourth largest exporter of frozen chicken, maize and cut flowers.
In fact, Thailand’s remarkable achievements in her export performance are due to its competitiveness in terms of price and quality, backed up by a skilled, flexible and efficient labour force. In addition, though Japan, the US and EC are still the major markets for Thai exports, Thailand still takes the opportunity to penetrate newer markets such as the Middle East, South America and Eastern Europe as exports have become vital to the Thai economy as a whole.