Thailand is Southeast Asia’s second largest economy with a gross domestic product (GDP) of around USD 300 billion. With a free-market economy, the Kingdom has a strong domestic market and a growing middle class, with the private sector being the main engine of growth. The Thai economy is well integrated into the global marketplace, with exports accounting for over 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s GDP. Thailand also has a strong industrial sector (40 per cent of GDP) and a robust and growing services sector (50 per cent of GDP) centred on the tourism and financial services industries. Though traditionally an agrarian society and historically one of the world’s few net food exporters, the agricultural sector today accounts for approximately 9 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Given the importance of exports to Thailand, it has been a leader in the region in terms of trade liberalisation and facilitation with the rest of the world, starting with its Asian neighbours. Thailand is a key player in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), enjoying a strategic location that provides easy access to a larger market of nearly 600 million people, which is expected to gain even more strength when the ASEAN vision of One Community materialises in 2015, making it a community of connectivity, a single market and production base. Furthermore, Thailand’s convenient access to China and India, as well as to other East Asian countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, takes this huge consumer market to even bigger proportions.