Since Thailand's economy was devastated by the Asian Financial Crisis, it has bounced back strongly, in line with regional trends. The country’s weak political outlook remains Thailand’s Achilles heel, given the entrenched political divide between the rural and middle and upper income class. While Thailand's economy will continue to be undermined by political volatility, it will not be completely hindered by it, and will continue to see growth in the manufacturing and tourism sectors over the coming years.
We keep our clients informed of the latest market moves and political developments in Thailand, as part of our 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' perspective. Clients also benefit from in-depth analysis on 22 of Thailand’s most important industries. We provide interactive data and forecasting alongside detailed and risk-assessed analysis from our results-proven research teams. Our aim is to keep you ahead of the curve, so you can feel confident doing business in Thailand.
Thailand Country Risk
The military junta has been successful in returning Thailand to political stability following the 2014 coup, but we are not yet willing to upgrade the country's low Political Risk Index score as fundamental divisions between the 'red shirts' and the 'yellow shirts' remain, and the impending royal succession has the potential to trigger renewed unrest.
Thailand's real GDP growth of 2.8% y-o-y in Q415 reflects the positive impact of the government's renewed infrastructure drive and the negative effects of weakening external demand. With the construction sector likely to continue to benefit from a number of major project commencements, and low oil prices having a positive impact on the country's terms of trade, we forecast real GDP growth to pick up slightly to...
Thailand Operational Risk Coverage (9)
Thailand Operational Risk
Thailand Operational Risk
BMI View: Foreign direct investment (FDI) is falling in Thailand as investors back off amid political upheaval. Despite the slowdown, international trade continues, albeit at lower rates of growth. Strong fundamentals in the financial sector have maintained confidence in the national economy and have offered economic resilience in the face of political stress. Thailand scores 66.8 out of 100 in the BMI Trade and Investment Risk Index and is ranked eighth...
Thailand Crime & Security
Thailand Crime & Security
BMI View: Thailand is a relatively safe location for businesses and workers. Although the separatist insurgency in the south and the regular public demonstrations may hamper business activities, there is no security risk significant enough to consistently disrupt operations. However, there are some significant crime risks in the country, particularly stemming from financial, cyber and organised crime. Cyberattacks are one of the most pertinent concerns for businesses, and will require significant expenditure to mitigate. Simultaneously, Thailand's large organised crime network undercuts legitimate enterprises and colludes with authorities to hinder competition. The Royal Thai Police are notoriously corrupt and incompetent, meaning that crimes directed at foreigners and...
Thailand Labour Market
Thailand Labour Market
Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, Thailand's labour market competitiveness is slipping. Due to a shortage of technical skills and unskilled labour, combined with rising labour costs, the country's is losing appeal as a manufacturing destination. Meanwhile, weakness in the education sector is preventing evolution of a knowledge-based economy, and poor foreign language skills prevent investment in international services.
Rising labour costs are the greatest element of labour market risk in the Thai economy, while a shortage of skills in key areas is another area of concern commonly cited by investors. This results from misalignment between industry and the education system, although education policy has improved significantly in the last decade. These elements combine to give Thailand a Labour Market risk score of 55.9 out of 100, ranking 54 th out of...
BMI View: Thailand has established a strong logistics sector, supported by modern infrastructure and services - with the exception of the rail network. That said, the long-term competitiveness of Thailand's logistics sector is threatened by regular political upheavals. The Thai government has repeatedly failed to implement large-scale transport development plans, particularly in the rail sector, which has been neglected for decades. As a result, investors will start looking increasingly to Malaysia and Vietnam as manufacturing hub alternatives, offering stronger supply chain options. As an industrialised country with a large production base, Thailand has become a hub for international trade. Growth in trade and consumption has been matched by development in transport and utilities infrastructure. Subsequently, Thailand scores 75.3 out of 100 for...
Thailand Trade & Investment
Thailand Trade & Investment
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is falling in Thailand as investors back off amid political upheaval. Despite the slowdown, international trade continues, albeit at lower rates of growth. Strong fundamentals in the financial sector have maintained confidence in the national economy and have offered economic resilience in the face of political stress. Thailand scores 55.6 out of 100 in the BMI Trade and Investment Risk Index and is ranked 66th out of 170 countries globally. There are higher levels of risk in terms of the country's legal environment and moderate risk in terms of government intervention. Thailand performs most strongly for economic openness.
Thailand's lowest score in the Trade and Investment Risk Index is on the Legal component. Laws are geared in favour of domestic firms and state-owned companies, while the government retains power to implement controls and distort the market, which warps the playing...
Thailand Industry Coverage (33)
BMI View: Thailand will maintain its status as a key Asian agricultural provider in the coming years, as the sector boasts strong export opportunities and government support, as well as an efficient food producing industry. The sugar and livestock sectors hold promising growth stories. However, the government's interference in the market, especially in the rice sector, will hinder the competitiveness of Thai production compared to its Asian rivals. Rice production will face downward pressure as the government incentivises farmers to switch away from rice towards other crops, mainly sugarcane, in a bid to curb oversupply of rice. That said, Thailand will likely regain its status as the world's largest rice exporter in the...
BMI View: Waning consumer confidence in the Thai economy coupled with high household debt levels and elevated car prices will lead to a contraction of 5.3% in vehicle sales in 2016.
|Downbeat Outlook For Thai Auto Sales|
|f = BMI forecast. Source: BMI, The Federation of Thai Industries|
Vehicle sales will contract 5.3% in 2016.
Waning consumer confidence in the economy will translate into weak...
Thailand Commercial Banking
|Date||Total assets||Client loans||Bond portfolio||Other||Liabilities and capital||Capital||Client deposits...|
Thailand Consumer Electronics
BMI View: Thailand's consumer electronics market has a bright medium-term outlook in comparison to the declines in market value that accompanied political uncertainty and challenging economic conditions during 2013-2015.
Our outlook is for robust growth in household incomes in Thailand in 2016-2019, which will significantly deepen the market for big-ticket items such as PCs, TV sets and higher value smartphones. As a result of this more supportive economic backdrop, as well as baht appreciation against the US dollar from 2017, our core scenario sees the market returning to a dynamic of vendors tapping into opportunities presented by income growth in the context of relatively low device penetration rates. We expect this to support an overall consumer electronics devices spending growth CAGR of 3.6% 2016-2019 to a total of USD7.84bn in 2019. The potential for economic headwinds to disrupt...
Defence & Security
Thailand Defence & Security
BMI View: A military coup in 2014 has successfully imposed a short-term solution to restore order and stability under General Prayuth Chan-ocha. This interim government is set to remain in place until October 2015 at the earliest, but the army will continue to play a major role in domestic politics beyond the transition to civilian rule. Inefficient allocation of resources hampers development, but will not be addressed by any government in the near future.
The ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on constitutional grounds in May 2014 triggered a rapid escalation in civil tensions across Thailand, pitting her 'red shirt' supporters against the largely urban, pro-establishment, 'yellow shirts'. With the caretaker government unable to calm tensions, the military stepped in and dismissed the interim administration. Temporarily imposing martial law and a curfew, as well as suspending much of...
Food & Drink
Thailand Food & Drink
BMI View: Thailand's food and drink industry will grow steadily over 2016 despite the fact that household spending remains under pressure. As household spending gradually recovers and incomes rise, we expect consumers to embrace premiumisation, thus growing industry value. Furthermore, the tourism sector will continue to prop up premium segments.
|Food & Drink Spending|
|f = BMI forecast. Source: BMI, national sources|
Thailand Freight Transport
BMI View: All three modes of Thailand's freight sector are set to post positive growth in 2016, with growth rates either remaining on a par or growing over our medium-term period to 2019. The country's trade figures will return to positive growth in 2016, in both real and nominal terms, suggesting the Asian economic slowdown will have had a limited effect on the economy. Continuing investment in transport infrastructure, particularly in the rail and air freight modes, will reap rewards in the medium and longer term.
Thailand's macroeconomic outlook looks rosy, if not robust, in 2016. Growth in both real imports and exports at almost equal levels sees a positive return to real growth too. Real GDP growth is also set to grow at a healthy level to 3.3% in 2016, though this will rise steadily to the end of our medium-term forecast period in 2019. GDP per capita in local...
Thailand Freight Transport
BMI View: Thailand is set to broadly see positive growth across its freight modes in 2016 and over the medium term, with the exception of road, which we expect will see a y-o-y contraction each year between 2016 and 2020. A slowdown in the economies of various Asia Pacific countries is presently stymieing annual growth in the freight industry and we also anticipate that exports will experience a slump in demand as demand from the key markets of China and Japan decreases.
Key Forecasts And Latest Updates
We revised down a number of our 2016 forecasts in the last quarter amid downgrades to most fundamentals amid renewed political uncertainty in the country. Our forecasts for total real trade growth (2.4%), air, rail and inland waterways all remain unchanged from Q2 2016, but road freight's forecast has been altered to -0.2 this...
Thailand Information Technology
BMI View: We expect Thailand's IT market will exhibit robust medium term growth as it continues to strengthen in 2016 after the challenges in 2013 and 2014 that suppressed IT spending growth. We forecast a CAGR of 6.8% from 2016-2019, with the market expected to reach a value of THB220.1bn in 2019. There will be considerable opportunities across all three IT market segments, but we highlight the retail hardware market and cloud computing services as the stand out opportunities. The strong household income growth forecast will enable vendors to target sales to both first-time buyers and multiple device households right across Thailand, while investments in datacentre and network infrastructure, alongside increased supply of solutions...
BMI View: Political risks will remain a hindrance to construction activity in Thailand over the long term following the military government's rejection of the draft constitution, which underscores the country's uncertain political outlook. With the junta expected to remain in power until 2017, large-scale public transport infrastructure projects are expected to benefit, driving construction activity over the near term.
Forecast and Latest Updates
We forecast Thailand's construction register real growth of 14.8% and 4.3% in 2015 and 2016 respectively. The expected growth surge in 2015 is largely owing to low base effects from 2014.
Long-term political risk will weigh on private construction activity,...
BMI View : In global terms, Thailand ranks as a medium sized and fairly rapidly growing market for insurance. Long standing trends should support steady rises in premiums in both the life and the non-life segments. The slowing of the economy appears not to have had an overly adverse impact on either segment.
Thailand Medical Devices
BMI View: We expect the market to rise at a CAGR of around 12% during the forecast period, with imports supplying much of the market. Budget constraints within the public health sector, along with the current uncertain political situation are likely to place pressure on growth but this could be tempered by the performance of the private medical tourism sector.
|Total (USDmn)||Per Capita (USD)||Total (Local Currency mn)||Per Capita (Local Currency) ...|
BMI View: Lead prices will gradually edge higher as the global lead market will shift into deficit by 2017 as production growth will slow over the coming years.
BMI View: We have increased our 2016 tin price forecast to USD16,500/tonne owing to a stabilisation in the Chinese economy over Q116 that has boosted all industrial metal prices significantly over January-April. While we expect consolidation over the remainder of 2016, tin prices will continue to recover beyond 2016 as the global market posts sustained market deficits and inventories dwindle.
BMI view: We have revised our aluminium price forecast from USD1,575/tonne to USD1,600/tonne in 2016, as the tightening market provided an earlier than expected floor in Q116. Aluminium prices will gradually edge higher as the global market moves into a deficit by 2018.
BMI View: Despite the strong H116 iron ore price rally, prices will edge lower due to weakening Chinese consumption over the latter half of 2016. From 2017 onwards, iron ore prices will remain subdued as iron ore prices remain under pressure from an over-supplied seaborne market, driven by strong production growth in Australia and Brazil, and weak consumption growth in China.
BMI View: Nickel prices will bottom in 2016 as weak production drags the global market into deficit. For instance, we expect Chinese imports of nickel to grow over the coming quarters. Prices will begin 2016 weaker than we had previously expected and we have thus revised down our 2016 average price forecast to USD9,000/tonne from USD10,500/tonne.
BMI View: We have revised down our average copper price forecast for 2016 to USD4,900/tonne. We expect prices to find a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, supported by production cuts and modest consumption growth.
BMI View: We have raised our gold price forecast for 2016 to USD1,275/oz and have a new five-year price target of USD1,400/oz. We have turned more positive towards prices due to rising inflation pressures and our view that real rates will remain depressed in developed markets beyond 2016. A modest rise in prices will be insufficient to reverse the trend of weak mine investment and industry consolidation.
BMI View: Global steel prices will remain subdued due to a persistent steel oversupply over the coming quarters. From 2017 onwards, steel prices will gradually edge higher as the global steel surplus will narrow due to Chinese supply moderation.
BMI View: We maintain our average zinc price forecast for 2016 of USD1,750/tonne. We expect zinc prices to reach a floor over the first half of 2016, and begin to stabilise thereafter, as production cuts shift the market to a deficit.
BMI View: Despite the rich deposits of untapped minerals on offer, we believe South East Asia's mining sector will struggle to fulfil its potential over the next few years. China's economic slowdown will remove a crucial outlet for raw material exports in the region and, more importantly, will impact the profitability of mining ventures, with high start up costs likely to deter new investment. While states such as Myanmar have made strides to relax the regulatory environment to encourage increased private sector investment, substantial obstacles remain across many parts of the region, including high levels of corruption and limited infrastructure. As such, many parts of the region continue to be perceived as frontier markets as far as mining activity is concerned.
Oil & Gas
Thailand Oil & Gas
BMI View: Above ground risks continue to weigh on the outlook for investment in the exploration and production necessary to reverse the current trend of declining reserves and production of both oil and gas. Despite untapped offshore potential, Thailand's dependence on imports is expected to grow as consumption, particularly of natural gas, accelerates and domestic output stagnates.
BMI View: Thailand's petrochemicals industry is expanding downstream capacities, while diversifying feedstocks, in order to shore up margins and add value to output. However, political risks will remain crucial in 2016 as the country approaches election time, which brings with it potential flashpoints that could revive the turmoil of 2014.
Thailand will see growth in output in 2016 due to the ramping up of petrochemicals capacities in 2015, including 250,000tpa of phenol, 15,000tpa of acetone. 90,000tpa of TOC Glycol, 115,000tpa paraxylene, 115,000tpa benzene and 20,000tpa orthoxylene. Meanwhile, Thai crackers will raise naphtha as a proportion of their feed in order to capitalise on lower naphtha costs as well as hedging against the impact of depleting gas resources.
Further expansions are expected in coming years. In...
Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
Thailand Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
BMI View: Multinational drugmakers will continue to face a difficult business environment in Thailand. Designated as a 'Priority Watch List Country' for PhRMA's Special 301 submission for 2016, key issues highlighted in 2015 remain unaddressed. This includes low levels of intellectual property protection as well as a challenging procurement process that favours the Government Procurement Organization. Cost containment pressures will also become more acute as authorities seek to curb rising healthcare spending.
Headline Expenditure Projections
Pharmaceuticals: THB152bnbn (USD4.4bn) in 2015 to THB160bn (USD4.5bn) in 2016; +5.3% in local currency terms and +1.9% in US dollar terms.
Healthcare: THB614bn (USD17.9bn) in 2015 to THB655bn (USD18.5bn) in 2016: +6.7...
BMI View: Thailand's plan to reduce its reliance on gas-fired power generation will create opportunities for alternatives such as coal and renewables, which poses upside risks to our outlook for the country's energy related infrastructure. That said, the scale of upside risk has been limited somewhat following the announcement that EPAC has approved the construction of a new LNG import terminal at Rayong. We highlight that lower than expected power consumption over the near term means such opportunities will begin to have an impact on infrastructure construction only beyond 2017-2018 as projects are delayed until demand picks up. We retain a modest growth forecast for 2015 and 2016, with power generation set to grow by 3.0% and 3.1%...
Thailand Real Estate
BMI View: As the Thai economy continues a tentative recovery, we have an increasingly positive outlook for the commercial real estate sector. Rising consumer confidence and private investment, as well as increased government investment in infrastructure, should support growth in the industry in the medium term. Competitive property prices, resilient yields and development in the service industries mean that commercial property is overall an attractive investment.
Thai economic growth suffered in 2014 and the early part of 2015 as a result of military intervention in 2014, which dampened domestic demand, and the global economic slowdown. However, in the second half of 2015 growth began to pick up. We see developments in the broader economy as having positive ramifications for the commercial property market, and we forecast increasing rental rates and occupancy levels over...
BMI View : Supportive policy and regulatory environment, combined with the government's strong commitment to diversify the power mix, will continue to attract investment into Thailand's non-hydro renewables industry over the coming decade. Growth will be driven by particularly strong expansion in the solar segment, with notable additions coming from biomass and wind sectors.
BMI View: Thailand's retail industry will benefit in the medium term from increasing urbanisation and rising incomes, which will support a growing demand for luxury and non-essential retail products, mostly in the capital, Bangkok. However, the country will remain deeply divided in terms of incomes, with a large proportion of rural dwellers still on low incomes, limiting scope for retailers to expand. Thailand, particularly Bangkok, has a thriving retail environment, with a large number of retailers, both domestic and international active in the market. The mass grocery retail, department store and shopping mall segments are particularly well developed.
|Headline Household Spending|
BMI View: We expect continued robust growth at Thai ports in 2016, but this is down as much to the base effects of a developing economy and investment in the countries ports rather than a strong outlook for the country on an economic and political basis. The military junta will now be in power until 2017, and, as a result, political tensions will continue to weigh on the investment climate, and consumer and capital spending on containerised imports will be hit. On the exports front, these have been falling thanks to low commodity prices globally.
Headline Industry Data
Gross tonnage at Laem Chabang, Thailand's largest port, is set to rise by 3.0% to 75.64mn tonnes in 2016, and will average growth of 4.1% a year over our medium-term forecast period to 2020. 2017 growth will be 4.7%....
BMI View: In 2016, the focus in the Thai mobile sector will be on 4G as the 2015 spectrum auctions saw operators forking out exorbitant amounts for valuable spectrum, which will enable them to expand their LTE networks and range of value-added-services (VAS) without having the state-owned operators taking a cut as per the previous BTO-concession model. On the fixed broadband side, the NBTC and ICT ministry have laid out investment and roll-out plans for a national broadband network, using proceeds from the spectrum auction, enlisting...
BMI View: Thailand's tourism industry has proved highly resilient, with arrivals continuing to increase over the course of 2015 despite significant security concerns following the bombing in Bangkok earlier in the year. The country's many tourist attractions, excellent regional and global connectivity and well developed hotel market will continue to attract a broad range of international visitors over our five year forecast period, ensuring continued growth in hotel and restaurant industry value and tourism related spending. We do note however that there is some potential for growth to be derailed should domestic political tensions escalate in the run-up to elections, which have once again been delayed until 2017.
BMI View: We are maintaining our view of the Thai water sector, as the underlying fundamentals remain broadly unchanged. However, we would highlight that the severe droughts seen earlier over 2015 are resulting in a spate of government driven investments into basic infrastructure which will offer significant opportunities over the longer term, and improve the quality of the service.
The severe water shortages seen in much of the country, and the concomitant water rationing announced by the government, has led us to revise our production forecasts for 2015 and the initial part of 2016. However, renewed rainfall and increased investment into basic infrastructure will see growth resume in 2016.
The emphasis on water consumption reduction and more conservative usage habits in the wake of the...