Rice Bowl of Asia is not jsut an enchanting
place for tourists to visit, it is also a country
abounding in opportunities both for business,
and employment, says HIRU BIJLANI"
of the most enchanting and beautiful countries
of South East Asia, Thailand, brings to mind
images of the famous river Kwai, miles and miles
of sandy beaches, cool mountainous plateaus,
and dense jungles.
was a classic war film 'The bridge on the river
Kwai' which attracted people from all over the
world to this exotic country. Situated in the
centre of the South East Asian continental region,
Thailand occupies an area of 514,000 sq. km.
It is surrounded by the Union of Myanmar (erstwhile
Burma) from the west to north and by Laos in
the east and north-east. To its east lies Kampuchea
and to the south lies Malaysia.
is divided into five major geographic parts
with the mountaineous North East region rich
in forests, the Korat plateau, an important
area for cash crops, the Southern region which
is on the boundaries of Malaysia which is rich
in agriculture, mineral and marine resources
and the central plains surrounding the Chao
Praya river, around which the capital Bangkok
word Thai means 'free' and Thailand is the only
South East Asian country which was never colonised.
With 55 per cent of the population being Buddhist,
Thailand has 73 provinces and each has a Provincial
the national level it has a cabinet with the
Prime Minister as the head of it. The Government
functions under the benign guidance of a constitutional
monarchy. Though it has had military dictatorships
on and off, the nature of the military dictatorship
tends to be benign and does not have any dramatic
impact on economic policy or social order.
from its serendip charm, the country also abounds
in opportunities both for business, tourism
and employment. Thailand appears to be 'riding
the crest' of an economic boom.
consistently strong export base, a growing tourism
sector, and a highly deregulated market economy
are the hallmarks of Thailand. Having posted
an impressive growth in GDP, close to ten percent
at constant prices, despite a strained infrastructure,
the economy is surging ahead.
a boom in the Thai economy, the Government has
taken measures to accelerate the development
of infrastructure. It has excellent air connections
to cities all over the world. The railways are
also reasonably well networked in the country.
The ports are well developed, with Bangkok being
the main port. As of now highway building has
been given top priority in the country which
has about 5,000 kilometres of roadways.
a well sustained growth rate, between eight
and ten percent per annum, agriculture continues
to be the mainstay of the economy. Agriculture
accounts for about 17 per cent of the GDP and
36.9 per cent of the exports.
as the 'Rice bowl of Asia' the country is a
net exporter of food. The principal agricultural
products are rice, maize, casjava, sugar and
rubber. Fishing is another major industry in
Thailand with Malaysia and Japan being the largest
importers of Thai fish. Incidentally, Thailand
is one of the largest exporters of shrimp in
importance of manufacturing has been increasing.
Manufacturing accounts for about 24 percent
of the GDP and 36 per cent of the exports, employing
8.9 per cent of the workforce.
main industrial products include processed foods,
precious stones and jewellery.
industries that have been showing a boom in
the last few years are processing, cement, footwear,
glass, paper, ceramics, petrochemicals, furniture,
pharmaceuticals and engineering goods. Factories
that support such economic activities are centered
in and around Bangkok - the capital.
mining and mineral industries are the other
major industries in Thailand. Textile and leather
products are also major industries in Thailand.
Local processing of wood has been encouraged
and exports of plywood vencer, parquet, furniture,
household utensils and paper products are increasing.
is also one of the major industries in Thailand
and a major foreign exchange earner. Significantly,
Thailand has over three million tourist visiting
it every year.
Board of investments controls investments and
provides incentives for foreign investments
and comes under the office of the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister is the Chairman of the Board.
While the Board of Investments is very open
it does not encourage majority shareholding
by foreign investors.