In 2017, Thailand was Australia’s 9th largest trading partner, making up 3% of Australia’s total trade. Exports of goods and services reached A$5.8b in 2017 made up largely of gold, coal, aluminium and coal. But there has been a significant increase in demand for Australian fruit—Thailand is a major market for blueberries, strawberries and mandarins. On the other side of the ledger, there have been an estimated A$17.2b worth of imports from Thailand in 2017, dominated by passenger motor vehicles, tourism and heating/cooling equipment.
Looking ahead Australian exporters could benefit from the strong growth in the e-commerce market, currently growing at 12.4% p.a.. Thai demand for electronics will also benefit from the construction of a national broadband network under the “Thailand 4.0” policy.
Of the A$5.8b export receipts, services contributed A$1.3b driven by education exports. Thailand is Australia’s seventh largest source of international students in 2017—with 30,560 enrolments in 2017 (4% of total).
The volume of Thai tourists visiting Australia has risen strongly over the last two years, likely driven by the steady appreciation of the Bhat against the AUD.
In terms of foreign investment stocks, Thailand is a marginal investor in Australia, owning a portfolio of just A$3.1b in 2017 (less than 0.1% of the total foreign investment stock). Australia’s largest investors remain traditional markets—the US with A$897b, and the UK with A$481b.
Thailand is a minuscule destination for Australian investment abroad (0.2% of the total in 2016). Australia’s investment in Thailand rose to A$4.5b in 2017 from A$3b in 2014. The US (A$665b) and UK (A$333b) remain the leading destinations for Australia’s foreign investment.