Country Listing

Thailand Table of Contents



Salient Features: Mixed economy includes both strong private sector and state enterprises; government assumes responsibility for general infrastructure development. Basically capitalist, committed to free trade. Rapid economic development of 1960s and 1970s slowed by worldwide recession of early 1980s. Strong recovery by 1987. Bangkok metropolitan area faced problems of rapid modernization, including housing shortages and pressure on such basic services as water, sewage, and health care.

Agriculture:Food surpluses produced by dominant agricultural sector of enterprising, independent smallholders. About 69 percent of labor force engaged in sector, and nearly 80 percent of population dependent on it for livelihood in the mid1980s . Agricultural commodities accounted for some 60 percent of export values in late 1980s. Major crops included rice, maize, cassava, rubber sugarcane, coconuts, cotton, kenaf, and tobacco. Forest cover decreased from more than 50 percent in 1961 to less than 30 percent in 1987. Fisheries important for food supply and foreign exchange earnings.

Industry: Modern enterprises mainly concentrated in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Majority Thai owned, but joint foreign ventures numerous; state enterprises form important segment. In late 1980s, sector accounted for roughly 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and 30 percent of total exports. Main categories of manufacturing included food and beverages, textiles and apparel, and wood and mineral products. Mineral resources contributed about 2 percent to gross national product (GNP) and included tin, tungsten, fluorite, antimony, and precious stones, all significant foreign exchange earners.

Energy Sources: Exploited domestic resources include small oil fields, large lignite deposits, natural gas in Gulf of Thailand, and hydroelectric power. Extensive, largely unevaluated oil shale deposits also identified, but exploitation economically infeasible in 1980s. Thermal (oil, natural gas, and lignite) power generation accounted for about 70 percent of total 7,570 megawatt installed generating capacity in 1986; hydropower, which remained largely unexploited, supplied about 30 percent. Electricity generally available in Bangkok metropolitan area and in about 43,000 of nation's some 48,000 villages (mostly near Bangkok). Rural program under way for electrification of remaining villages by late 1990s.

Foreign Trade: Major exports primary and processed agricultural products, tin, clothing, and other manufactured consumer goods. Major imports capital goods, intermediate products, and raw materials; petroleum products largest single import by monetary value since mid-1970s. Largest trading partners Japan and United States; trade with Japan characterized by large deficit.

Data as of September 1987