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Economic Overview

Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia, and with an upper-middle income status, serves as an economic anchor for its developing neighbour countries. The country's economy appears resilient and, according to the IMF, growth was estimated at 2.7% in 2023, slightly higher than 2.6% one year earlier, as the contraction in investment and goods exports caused by the slowdown in external demand partially offset the robust private consumption growth following the tourism recovery. The growth projection for 2024 stands at 3.2%, buoyed by enhancements in external demand and sustained robust growth in private consumption, followed by 3.1% in 2022 (IMF).

Concerning public finances, the IMF anticipates that the general government deficit will rise to 1% of GDP in 2024, up from an estimated 0.3% in 2023. This increase is attributed to heightened expenditure, accommodating initiatives like the digital cash handout scheme and other measures endorsed by coalition parties during the election campaign. These expenditures are expected to outstrip steady revenue collection as growth strengthens. In 2025, the IMF projects a modest increase in the fiscal deficit to 1.2%, mainly driven by sustained social and capital spending. The debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 61.4% last year, from 60.5% in 2022, and is expected to follow an upward trend in 2024 (62.9%). Thailand's robust external position continues to be a fundamental strength, offering a substantial buffer against tightened global financial conditions and geopolitical risks. In 2023, headline inflation reached 1.5%, benefiting from ongoing efforts to maintain low energy prices and enhancements in global supply chains. As growth strengthens in 2024, headline inflation is anticipated to experience a slight uptick to 1.6%.

The unemployment rate remained very low in 2023 (1.2%) and is projected to stay around 1% over the forecast horizon (IMF). Thailand's official unemployment rate is among the lowest in the world due to the low birth rate, lack of social insurance and informal sector employing the bulk of the workforce (street vendors, motorbike taxis and self-employed). The country’s average GDP per capita (PPP) was estimated at USD 20,672 in 2023 by the World Bank. Thailand has made the most progress in ASEAN on eradicating poverty in recent years, with the poverty ratio standing at 6.3% of the population (Asian Development Bank, latest data available).

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 495.65514.95548.89573.39605.76
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 7,0737,3377,8128,1538,608
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -3.1-1.6-2.1-2.0-1.8
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 60.562.464.565.565.8
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -15.746.579.0611.4312.93
Current Account (in % of GDP) -

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , October 2021

Country Risk

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Main Sectors of Industry

Thailand has a labour force of 40.2 million people, out of its 71.6 million population. Its economy is heavily based on agriculture, which contributes 8.8% of the GDP and employs 32% of the active population (World Bank, latest data available). The country is the largest producer of natural rubber in the world and one of the leading producers and exporters of rice; it also possesses sugar, corn, jute, cotton and tobacco among its major crops. Fishing constitutes an important activity as Thailand is a major exporter of farmed shrimp. Traditional farming methods are prevalent, but there's a growing emphasis on modernizing agriculture through technology adoption, such as precision farming and irrigation systems.

The manufacturing sector accounts for 35% of the GDP and is well diversified, employing 23% of the active population (World Bank). The country has established itself as a manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia, attracting foreign investment due to its strategic location, skilled workforce, and robust infrastructure. The Thai industrial sector is diverse and dynamic, encompassing manufacturing, electronics, automotive, and petrochemicals among its key sectors. Emerging sectors within the industrial landscape include renewable energy, biotechnology, and aerospace, reflecting Thailand's efforts to move towards high-value-added industries and technological innovation. Thailand's industrial output declined 5.1% in 2023 due to a significant drop in computer and peripherals, electronic parts, and furniture production (official data).

The tertiary sector contributes to 56.2% of the GDP and employs 46% of the active population (World Bank). Key sectors include tourism, finance, healthcare, education, and telecommunications. Thailand's tourism industry is a major driver of the tertiary sector, attracting millions of visitors annually: according to official governmental figures, the country welcomed over 28 million international visitors in 2023 , generating an impressive income of more than THB 1.2 trillion. The finance sector, centred in Bangkok, serves as a regional financial hub, offering a wide range of banking, insurance, and investment services. Healthcare and education are also prominent sectors, with Thailand being a destination for medical tourism and home to reputable universities and international schools. Emerging areas within the tertiary sector include digital services, e-commerce, and fintech.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 31.6 22.5 45.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 8.8 35.0 56.2
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.5 -0.7 4.6

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Thailand Baht (THB) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 35.3033.9432.3131.0031.29

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.



Foreign Trade

Thailand is an emerging economy and active member of ASEAN; it is very open to international trade, which represents around 134% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). According to figures from the Ministry of Commerce, in 2022, the country’s main exports were motor cars, parts and accessories (10%), automatic data processing machines and parts (7.2%), precious stones and jewellery (5.2%), rubber products (4.8%), and refined fuels (3.5%); whereas imports mostly comprised crude oil (11.9%), chemicals (7%), machinery and parts (6.9%), electrical machinery and parts (6.7%), electronic integrated circuits (63%), iron, steel and products (5.1%).

In 2022, the country's main export partners were the U.S. (16.6%), China (12%), Japan (8.6%), Vietnam (4.6%), and Malaysia (4.4%); conversely, imports came chiefly from China (23.5%), Japan (11.4%), the U.S. (5.9%), the UAE (5.7%), and Malaysia (4.8% - data Ministry of Commerce). On the 15th of November 2020, Thailand signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with 14 other Indo-Pacific countries. This free trade agreement is the largest trade deal in history, covering 30 per cent of the global economy. It includes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and ASEAN’s free trade agreement partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea). The RCEP covers goods, services, investment, economic and technical cooperation. It also creates new rules for electronic commerce, intellectual property, government procurement, competition, and small and medium-sized enterprises.

According to WTO data, Thailand exported USD 287 billion worth of goods in 2022 (+5.5% year-on-year), compared with USD 303.1 billion in imports (+13.6%). Concerning services, exports stood at USD 40.5 billion against USD 62.7 billion in imports (+59.5% and +8.3%, respectively). The country had a structurally positive trade balance; however, the trend reversed in 2022, when the World Bank estimated the trade balance to be in deficit by 2.3% of GDP for the first time since 2001. According to preliminary figures by the Ministry of Commerce, throughout 2023, the kingdom's exports declined by 1% compared to the previous year, amounting to USD 284.56 billion, while imports decreased by 3.8% to USD 289.75 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 5.19 billion.

Foreign Trade Values 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 236,260206,156266,882301,030289,754
Exports of Goods (million USD) 246,269231,634272,006287,425284,562
Imports of Services (million USD) 56,85545,46657,90562,85965,478
Exports of Services (million USD) 81,17830,99725,40738,90163,033

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 120.8109.797.8117.2133.9
Trade Balance (million USD) 22,38826,72540,40232,35410,814
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 44,92251,04725,933-79-12,296
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 8.3-5.2-13.917.84.1
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 3.4-3.0-19.711.16.8
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 64.859.551.558.665.8

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change)
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
Thailand is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ICC, Colombo Plan, WTO, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), G-77, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Thailand click here. International organisation membership of Thailand is also outlined here.
Free Trade Agreements
Thailand is a member of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) signed on 15 November 2020. The complete and up-to-date list of Free Trade Agreements signed by Thailand can be consulted here.

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
United States 16.6%
China 12.0%
Japan 8.6%
Vietnam 4.6%
Malaysia 4.4%
See More Countries 53.8%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 23.3%
Japan 11.3%
United States 6.0%
United Arab Emirates 5.9%
Malaysia 4.8%
See More Countries 48.7%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data



Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Maha Vajiralongkorn, Rama X (since 13 December 2016) – hereditary
Prime Minister: Srettha Thavisin (since 5 September 2023)
Next Election Dates
Senate: 2024
House of Representatives: May 2027
Current Political Context
Although protests advocating for reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha diminished in 2022, the government grappled with escalating public and political dissatisfaction. In July 2022, the Prime Minister and his administration weathered their fourth no-confidence vote since assuming office in 2019.
Throughout much of its coup-prone modern history, Thailand has been governed by a small yet influential clique deeply entrenched in the military, royalist circles, and business elite. However, in recent years, this establishment has faced its most significant challenge in decades, as young people demand extensive reforms. The May 2023 election marked a notable shift, with progressive parties securing widespread support and voters delivering a strong rebuke to the military-backed leadership that has dominated Thailand since the 2014 coup. Furthermore, it marked the first instance in over two decades that a party associated with Thaksin had lost an election. The emergence of newcomers like the Move Forward Party, known for its reformist agenda, garnered substantial support among Thailand's youth.
In August 2023, the Thai Parliament averted a looming political crisis by ultimately selecting a new prime minister, marking the return of one of the nation's most divisive figures after a 15-year self-imposed exile. Thai lawmakers elected real estate mogul and political novice Srettha Thavisin from the populist Pheu Thai party as the country's 30th prime minister. This resolution concluded three months of deadlock, albeit with the party forming a governing coalition alongside its historical military adversaries. Srettha garnered 482 votes out of a total of 747 across both houses of parliament, significantly surpassing the majority required to secure the premiership. It is noteworthy that under Thailand's constitution, which was drafted in the aftermath of the 2014 military coup, the unelected Senate is predominantly composed of military appointees and wields significant influence over the formation of governments and the selection of prime ministers.
Main Political Parties
Thailand maintains a multi-party system, but traditional political parties have seen their role reduced in the parliament since the military-led coup in 2014. Currently, the main parties represented in the House of Representatives are:

- Pheu Thai Party (PTP); centre-right, it is the current majority ruling party.
- Move Forward: Social-democratic, progressive. It is the main opposition party.
- Bhumjaithai: Centrist focusing on rural interests.
- Palang Pracharat: Right-wing supportive of the military establishment.
- United Thai Nation: Nationalist, advocating for Thai interests.
- Chart Thai Pattana Party: Regionalist emphasizing agricultural policies.
- Prachachart: Populist focusing on grassroots issues.
- Pheu Thai Ruam Palang: Factional group within Pheu Thai.
- Chart Pattana Kla: Focused on economic development.
- Thai Liberal: Advocating for liberal policies.
- Democrat: Center-right.
- Thai Sang Thai: Nationalist.
- Fair Party: Advocates for fairness.

Executive Power
Thailand is governed by a constitutional monarchy. The King is the Chief of State and the Monarchy is hereditary. Traditionally, he has little direct power but benefits from enormous popular respect and moral authority, which has been used on occasion to resolve political crises and ensure national stability. Official power rests with the government. The Prime Minister is the Head of Government and holds all the executive powers including implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs. Under the new Constitution approved in April 2017, individuals outside of parliament can serve as Prime Minister. The cabinet is appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Thailand’s 77 provinces each administered by an appointed Governor are divided into districts, sub-districts (tambons) and villages.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Thailand is bicameral. The parliament of the country is the National Assembly. It consists of the Senate (the upper house) with 250 seats, all its members appointed by the Royal Thai Military, under the new Constitution adopted in April 2017, to serve five-year terms (the Senate appointed in 2024 will consist of 200 members elected from various groups of professionals for a 5-year term); and the House of Representatives (the lower house) with 500 seats, its members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms (375 directly elected through single constituency elections and 125 elected through party-list proportional representation). The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The Government cannot veto the acts passed by the parliament.


COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Thailand please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.