Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.
Last Published: 7/21/2017

Thailand, the second largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia, is an upper middle-income country with an open economy and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $404 billion and 3.2% annual growth in 2016.

Thailand is the 28th largest export destination for the United States.  Two-way trade of goods and services in 2016 averaged $40 billion, with $29.5 billion in Thai exports to the U.S. and $10.5 billion in U.S. exports to Thailand.

U.S. exports to Thailand contracted by 6.5%, while U.S. imports from Thailand increased by about 3.1% for the same period in 2015.

Among countries in Asia, Thailand ranks as the United States’ 9th largest export destination after China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, India, and Malaysia.

An export-dependent economy, Thailand exported a total of $215.3 billion worth of goods in 2016.  The United States was Thailand’s No. 1 export market (11.2%), followed by China (11.1%) and Japan (9.4%).  The top ten export items were machinery (17.4%), electronics appliances (13.9%), vehicles and automotive parts (12.7%), gems and jewelry (6.6%), rubber (5.7 %), plastic (5.3%), mineral fuels (2.9%), meat and seafood (2.8%), medical device and supplies (2.5%) and cereals (2.1%).

Thailand is one of the world’s most visited countries and tourism is vital to the Thai economy; it contributes approximately 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Despite a temporary slowdown and the postponement of economic activities in the 4th quarter, during the period of mourning after the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in October, Thailand recorded 32.58 million tourist arrivals in 2016, an 8.91% increase over 2015.  The nine main airports of Thailand served a record 129 million passengers in 2016, an increase of 14.7% over 2015.

In 2016, the Thai economy grew by 3.2%, improving from 2.9% in 2015.  Private consumption, public investment, and private investment expanded by 3.1%, 9.9% and 0.4%, respectively.  Export growth was null with 0% growth.  Meanwhile, the inflation rate was 0.2% and the current account registered a surplus of 11.4% of GDP.

The Thai economy is projected to grow by 3-4% in 2017.  Thailand's cabinet approved an infrastructure action plan worth $25.2 billion for 2017.  Therefore, government spending in infrastructure will be a major driver of the economy.  Risk factors include the economic situations of trading partners, fluctuations of money markets, uncertainty in the international economic policies of the United States, European politics, and international politics. 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.

Thailand Trade Development and Promotion