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: 7/19/2018

Thailand, the second largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia, is an upper middle-income country with an open economy, a gross domestic product (GDP) of $479 billion, and 3.9% growth in 2017.
Thailand is the 26th largest export destination for the United States.  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.  Two-way trade of goods and services in 2017 averaged $42 billion, with $31.2 billion in Thai exports to the U.S. and $10.8 billion in U.S. exports to Thailand.
U.S. exports to Thailand increased by 3.8%, while U.S. imports from Thailand increased by 5.8% for the same period in 2017.

An export-dependent economy, Thailand exported a total of $236 billion in 2017.  The United States was Thailand’s second largest export market (11.2%), led by China (12.4%) and followed by Japan (9.4%).  The top ten export items were machinery including computers (17%), electrical equipment (14.4%), vehicles (12.1%), rubber (6.9%), gems (5.4%), plastics (5.4%), minerals (3.5%), meat and seafood preparations (2.7%), optical/technical/medical apparatus (2.4%), and cereals (2.3%).

Thailand is one of the world's most visited countries, and tourism is vital to the Thai economy; it contributed approximately 9.4% of the country's GDP in 2017.  Tourism is expected to rise by 7.8% in 2018.  Thailand recorded 35.4 million tourist arrivals in 2017, an 8.8% increase on the previous year.  The nine main airports of Thailand served a record 129.2 million passengers (including 1 million Americans), up from 121.7 million recorded in 2016.

In 2017, the Thai economy grew by 3.9%, improving from 3.2% in 2016.  Private consumption and total investment increased by 3.2% and 0.9% respectively.  Export value grew by 9.7% while inflation averaged 0.7% and the current account remained in a surplus of 10.8% of GDP.

The Thai economy is projected to grow by 4.2% to 4.7% in 2018, mainly supported by the acceleration of world economic growth, the expansion of government expenditure, and the acceleration of public investment of key infrastructure projects.

To promote infrastructure development, Thailand has published the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Act to support EEC development of integrate related infrastructure and utilities to connect land, sea, and air through high-speed rail links, ports, and airports.  The EEC scheme covers 30 existing and new industrial zones, with expected investment of $55 billion in 3 eastern provinces — Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, and Rayong.  The EEC’s targeted industries include next-generation cars, smart electronics, medical, wellness tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, food, robotics, aviation, biofuels, and digital technologies.  Risk factors include the economic situations of trading partners, fluctuations of money markets, and uncertainty in international economic policies 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