Thailand’s economy expanded by an estimated 4.6% p.a. in 2018, driven by robust exports (including tourism), solid investment and a recovery in household spending. Public investment is set to strengthen over the coming year as the Thai government prioritises the implementation of national socio-economic reform (Thailand 4.0), which includes stronger spending on infrastructure. Elections, which have been delayed several times since the military coup in 2014, are currently set for February 2019. A more predictable political environment would help attract greater foreign investment, which had dimmed over much of the last four years.
Thailand’s per-capita GDP is above the emerging Asian average, but is below its geographic neighbours Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. GDP per capita has remained little changed from 2012-2016, however it is forecast to rise above US$9000 by 2023. Thailand will need to transition into knowledge intensive industries to lift productivity and household incomes if it is to become a high-income economy.