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back to index backASIAtalk November,  2005


Thailand: Doing Business in 2006: Implications for Foreign Investors

For the second year in a row Thailand has been ranked as the 20th easiest country in the world in which to do business; this, according to the September 2005 report, Doing Business in 2006: Creating Jobs,” cosponsored by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The third such annual report provides a global ranking of 155 nations based on the input of over 3,500 local experts-business consultants, economists, lawyers, accountants and government officials.

Thailand this year scored in the top 25% in 7 out of 10 of the indicator categories. Virtually all of Thailand's scores in the 7 categories repeated from last year's report either remained the same or significantly improved. For example, the cost of starting a business in Thailand-as a percentage of per capita income — decreased from 6.7% to 6.1%. The investor disclosure index improved to a perfect score of 10, up from the previous year's score of 5. While the insolvency recovery rate — measured in cents on the U.S. dollar — increased from 42 to 44 cents.

The report is timely news for the Thai government, keen to promote its mega investment projects initiative that requires government spending of up to 1.7 trillion baht (US$ 42.5 billion) over the next four years. While the report is a strong endorsement for doing business in Thailand, the World Bank also stressed that the quality of projects will be key to encouraging future investment.

Speaking at a conference entitled Financing Thailand's Mega Projects, hosted last month by the Finance Ministry, Christian Delvoie, director of the World Bank's infrastructure-sector unit, indicated that the challenge for Thailand would be managing and implementing its projects in a way that ensured continued ‘efficiency' and ‘quality'. If projects are good you can find financing, but financing and engineering cannot fix bad projects,” Delvoie told the conference.

Delvoie urged Thailand and other Asian countries to concentrate on three important areas. First, coordination — generating a strategic vision and turning it into reality. Second, inclusive development — pursuing growth strategies that in turn alleviate poverty, and finally, accountability and risk management — encouraging transparency by rewarding organizations that perform well and penalizing those that perform below standard.

Desmond Dodd, an IFC spokesman based in Hong Kong said the conclusions to be drawn from the report were not necessarily about regulations. The focus [of the report] is on the results — what people who are being surveyed say about what works in practice.”

He suggested the focus was therefore on the payoff that comes because businesses waste less time and money on unnecessary regulations and devote more resources to producing and marketing their goods.”

Recent free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia, China, India, New Zealand and the 10 member countries of ASEAN, have spotlighted Thailand as an attractive investment haven. A possible FTA agreement with the U.S. may also help to boost Thailand's image as one of the top destinations attracting foreign investment to Asia.

How does Thailand Stack Up?
Thailand's rank vs. selected regional economies, in selected categories



Source: Thai Investment Review -
GAI


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