Thailand still holds a top 10 position in APEC


Thailand still holds a top 10 position in APEC

Thailand remains the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, only surpassed by Singapore, and a survey conducted of 800 business leaders between June and August this year showed that although some of her neighbours are making great strides, Thailand still features prominently in their thinking when it comes to potential for investment.

The Apec CEO Survey was aimed at measuring confidence in the Asia-Pacific area and Thailand was seventh on the list of the top 10 countries considered as worthy of future investment and potential growth.

It would be no real surprise that the leading countries in the Pacific rim for future investment were China and the United States, at 53 and 52 percent respectively, while Singapore (with 46 percent) was fifth. Perhaps a little surprising, Vietnam and Indonesia both topped the list for Southeast Asian Apec members, coming in equal second with the United States at 52 percent.

Thailand, as noted, was seventh, with a 42 percent rating, just behind the Philippines (45 percent) but ahead of Malaysia, Japan and Chile, all with 40 percent.

Thailand’s strategic location has always held it in good stead when it comes to its near neighbours, and this remains the case. It is, for now, one of the world’s largest agricultural and manufacturing bases, but has also risen in stature as an intra-regional and logistics hub.

Most CEOs believed Thailand’s weak economic data and uncertain political climate would not prevent it from bouncing back, something the country has shown it is capable of doing time and time again. Rebounding tourism has helped stem the poor economic numbers and the government’s stimulus measures are also starting to bear fruit.

The CEO survey noted the growing demand for better infrastructure as well as increased use of digital technology will help draw investment into Thailand. Foreign fund inflows have generally remained quite steady, even through the various political upheavals which have occurred over the last decade.

While the United States and China, as the world’s largest and second-largest economies respectively, remain the focus of any serious chief executive, the CEO survey did note that many companies were looking to vary their allocations of new investment.

Promisingly, some 53 percent of CEO’s said they planned to increase their investments during the next 12 months or so, with a lot of the emphasis for that new money going into the Apec region.

Sixty-three percent of CEO’s said they expected a new wave of business spending would be aimed at modernization of their various industries over the next five years. These modernisations would likely embrace such technologies as robotics, the Internet of Things and 3D printing, and all of these are likely to revolutionise manufacturing by 2020, and will, of course, include Thailand.

Expanded broadband access across Apec and increased participation in the digital economy are seen as holding the most promise for regional connectivity. These factors are rated above regional trade projects and even new infrastructure projects in the more underdeveloped areas of the Apec region.

The CEO’s said cybersecurity, natural disasters and geopolitical tensions posed the greatest risks to business investment and growth.