Thailand has an ambitious economic vision, together with its rapid economic growth, and a growing importance in the manufacturing sector. This has led many to believe that Thailand will join the rank of a newly industrialized country in South-East Asia in the near future. Hence, the purpose of this study is to consider Thailand's economic background and its policies, combined with its comparative advantage and foreign direct investment, and to predict the direction of Thailand's future development.
The historical background, geographical and demographical aspects of Thailand are analyzed with the economic aspects, such as source of growth, balance of payment, foreign trade, external debt, and price level.
To illustrate the process of changes in the industrial sector, stages of industrial development since 1960 as well as the policies corresponding to each stage are examined. Special programs employed to accelerate the industrial development are addressed.
The concept of comparative advantage and phases of its changes are discussed. The Revealed Comparative Advantage Index of Thailand's products and comparison with other ASEAN countries as well as the Asian NICs are made.
Thailand's foreign direct investment pattern, especially, its size, growth rate, and type of direct investment are examined. Recent characteristics of foreign direct investment are also observed. Stimuli and policies available to foreign investors are described. Effects of foreign direct investment on Thailand are also addressed.
Obstacles in Thailand's economy such as human resources development, technology, and infrastructure, in achieving the Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) status are addressed. Protectionism which is an important threat to Thailand's exports is included.
The final chapter summarizes the main points in this dissertation. Recommendations and critiques of Thailand's economy are proposed. The policy that should be implemented to sustain the country's growth in order to attain its goal of NIC status is articulated.