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Agriculture and Agro-Industries

Thailand is blessed with land and labour resources used to produce a wide variety of agricultural products (rice, tapioca, sugar cane, rubber and canned fruits), aquacultural products (shrimp, fish), and animal husbandry products (pork products, chickens).  
Given the competitive world food market, the Thai government is concentrating on targeting specific markets, in particular halal food. Demand is driven by 1.5 billion Muslim consumers world-wide, generating US$80 billion per year. 
The government plans to promote the southern province of Pattani as the centre of world Islamic/halal food production.  The project is currently in its early stages.  The government has provided funds for infrastructure, arranged tax incentives and soft loans, assisted in promotions, such as trade shows, and brought together potential investors to study opportunities to open markets in Arab countries and South Africa.  
In addition, Thailand cooperates with other ASEAN countries in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.  These nations have adopted halal food guidelines, and as a rule Thailand produces under an ASEAN halal logo. It also provides training on halal food preparation, regulation on food control and safety and endorsement. 
The bulk of investment in agriculture and agricultural products is concentrated on the production of rubber and rubber products, and the production of canned/processed seafood and refrigerated/frozen seafood.  
Most promoted investment projects in this industry are family businesses that have adopted advanced technology and management.  This has helped Thailand earn a sound reputation on world markets for the quality of its goods.  Thailand is a world leader in pineapple, shrimp and canned tuna exports.  The latter in 1998 were worth US$611.1 million.  Continued efforts are being made to improve shrimp production, such as the development of black tiger prawn breeds, and the establishment of a tiger prawn estate. 

Automotive and Auto Parts Industry

With twelve local assemblers, Thailand has the largest and most dynamic automotive industry in South-East Asia.  The industry employs some 15,000 to 20,000 direct (manufacturing) workers and 1.5 million indirect workers (automotive services, sales, supporting industries and suppliers).  
The strength of its automotive assembly business, combined with the government’s liberalization efforts and enticing BOI investment policies, has attracted major industry players and hundreds of firms which produce automotive parts and components. The prominent auto producers in Thailand include Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Ford and Mazda.  Thailand’s key export markets for passenger cars are the United Kingdom, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong.  The commercial vehicles market is directed towards Australia, Portugal, Germany, Spain and Italy. New Zealand and Australia have also recently become attractive markets. 
Thailand remains the world’s second largest one-ton pick-up market, the world’s fourth-largest market for motorcycles, and is the main automotive hub of South-East Asia. 

Electronics and Electrical Equipment

The combined electronics and electrical appliance industry is by far the largest export industry in Thailand.  The loss in value in the baht since 1997 has favored the industry, allowing it to be more competitive in global terms.  It is one of the few industries that survived the crisis with minimal impact. As well as being the number one export product, the domestic demand has also risen significantly over the years. 
Thailand is one of the top production bases for hard disk drives in the region, second only to Singapore among ASEAN member countries. 
Initially an import substitution industry, it is now regarded as a middle-level technology export-oriented industry with nearly 2,000 companies in operation producing a wide variety of products.  Thailand’s electronics and electrical equipment industry has registered spectacular yearly double-digit growth in recent years, consistently surpassing the overall economic growth.  

Regional Offices

In 1992, the Prime Minister’s office passed a regulation facilitating the formation of regional offices of multinational corporations in Thailand in order to promote the country as a commercial centre in the region. 
Despite some constrains, Thailand has a lot to offer in terms of potential market opportunities to foreign investors wishing to establish regional offices, particularly those with operations in the Greater Mekong Subregion, to which Thailand serves as a convenient gateway. 

Computer Software

Thailand’s software industry is considered an exciting emerging industry and a main driver of on the road to increased competitiveness in world markets.  
In total there are about 300 local software firms, and 90 percent of them are small and medium enterprises.  Most of the software sold in the market is limited to localization of existing overseas packaged software.  Packaged software held 19 percent of the IT market in 1998, with growing demand for new software, specifically games and educational software.  
In line with the trend towards network servers and data services, the pattern of software use is likely to shift to application servers. Internet nodes are forecasted to rise to 100 million baht by 2000.  


In an effort to improve the quality of the education system in Thailand, the government has been encouraging the participation of the private sector through a number of means, including providing support funds such as the Human Resource Development Loan Fund and tax exemptions on educational materials by the BOI. 
Also in 1998, the Cabinet eased the regulations on private sector education institutions for loan applications under government loan programmes. All levels of institutions can apply for loans, but priority is given to secondary education institutions and all institutions located outside of Bangkok.  State subsidies for private sector institutions are given to existing institutions on a per capita cost basis, but subsidies are no longer available for new education institutions. 
Enrolments in private sector education institutions are increasing at all levels except pre-primary, and according to the Office of the National Education Commission (ONEC), enrolments in upper secondary vocational schools will increase 80 percent between 1997 and 2000. These forecasts imply that excellent investment opportunities exist in the private education realm.
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