Thailand: a Market Overview

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  • Topic: Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand
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Thailand; A Market Overview 2012

Thailand is officially known as The Kingdom of Thailand, but formerly known as Siam. It is located in South-Eastern Asia, occupying the Western half of the Indochinese peninsula and the northern two-thirds of the Malay Peninsula. Its neighbouring countries are Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. The country has a population of 69.5 million [ (CIA, 2012) ]. Thailand has a tropical climate consisting of extreme seasons of heat and rain. The vulnerability of the climate has implications on the country’s development which I will discuss later below. Politics:

Thailand is a Constitutional Monarchy presided over by the King of Thailand, who is the official head of state. Thailand is the only country to have escaped Colonial rule. Although Thailand’s recent governments have been civilian and democratically elected, the country has seen turbulent times. Since its formation the country has alternated back and forth between civilian and military rule proving its political instability. Recent years have seen violent riots and protests as a result of fallout from a corrupt government. One key influence has been Thaksin Shinawatra, member of the Thai Rak Thai ('Thais Love Thais') Party, who held power from January 2001 - 2006. Thaksin has had a very significant impact on the overall political landscape. Thaksin was a hugely popular billionaire telecommunications mogul who became prime minister in January 2001. That same year he was narrowly cleared of corruption charges of not fully disclosing his assets during his second term as prime minister. Thaksin made history in 2005 when he became the first Thai prime minister to serve two consecutive terms. He was criticized in his first term for his alleged corruption, his unsuccessful attempt at controlling the Muslim riots in the south and his failure to quickly respond to an outbreak of avian flu, but his forceful handling of the tsunami crisis increased his popularity in the days leading up to the election. During his second term Thaksin faced criticism for evading taxes, favouring family and friends with government jobs and introducing an antidrug operation in 2003 which killed 2,500 people. In 2007 Thaksin was found guilty by the constitutional court of election fraud and his party was banned from participating in government for five years. Samak Sundaravej, a member of the People Power Party, was elected prime minister in 2008. Samak was seen to be a ‘proxy’ or ally to Thaksin so political uncertainty continued with the demonstrating of the anti-government group People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). Samak was forced to resign in 2007 after the Constitutional Court ruled that he had violated the constitution due to a conflict of interest. Somchai Wongsawat, the acting prime minister of Samak, took office in mid-September. Protests by anti-government groups continued. Later that year in December the Thai Constitutional Court ruled that the three main parties of the People Power Party were guilty of election fraud. The parties were dissolved and their members banned from politics for 5 years. A shift in internal politics occurred in 2011 when Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister. Yingluck is the younger sister of Thaksin Shinawatra and Thailand’s first female prime minister. She and her party, Pheu Thai Party, have pledged to overcome the country’s Thaksin-based divisions. The results of this remain to be seen. Economics:

The economy of Thailand is the second largest economy in the south Asian region. Thailand is a member of APEC, the Cairns Group and the G20 trading bloc (pictured left to right) [ (BBC, 2012) ]. The economy is based on the principles of free trade, with a general pro-investment policy. However, certain essential functions like transportation, communications and power generation remain under the control of the state. The GDP for Thailand is $345.6 Billion as of 2011 [ (The World Bank, 2012) ]. The GDP growth for 2010...
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