Opportunities for Kansas Companies in Southeast Asia: Thailand
In a post-pandemic world, the countries of Southeast Asia are open for business and looking to continue to modernize their economic sectors. This fall, our CEO Laura Lombard visited Thailand, Laos and Vietnam with the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Thailand’s government has identified twelve target industrial sectors and three in particular reflect strengths in Kansas: advanced agriculture, food for the future, and aviation. Additional target sectors of potential interest to Kansas companies include education & human resource development, robotics, digital, and medical.
Thailand’s economy is recovering from the pandemic. In 2020, the economy shrunk with a negative GDP growth of -6.2%. One of its major sectors, tourism, was decimated during the pandemic. In 2021, the country’s GDP grew by 1.6%. In the two years prior to the pandemic, it was growing at a healthy 4.2%. It is expected to be at 3.2% growth this year. While Thailand’s growth is low compared to Vietnam’s (7.7%), this is reflective of a more developed economy.
Thailand wants to promote itself as a regional hub for aviation manufacturing and MRO, citing the expansion of the U-Tapao International Airport as part of the Eastern Airport City development as they drive to become an aviation hub. The country particularly is interested in Tier 3 and Tier 4 manufacturing to support a growing fleet of commercial airlines.
Agriculture and food for the future are two complementary sectors that are actively being pursued by Thailand. The country is positioning itself to be a regional leader in advanced agricultural technologies and is actively investing in R&D centers to enhance biotechnology. While the country itself is a strong agricultural center with half of the total land area used for agricultural purposes, Thailand also needs to import commodities such as wheat, corn, soybeans, and sorghum. In addition, although the country is actively promoting its own food for the future, it is also looking to import high-quality and organic food products.
Interested in learning more about opportunities for your business in Thailand? Contact us today.