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I. Overview of Thailand
Over the last four decades, Thailand has made remarkable progress in social and economic development, moving from a low-income to an upper-income country in less than a generation. As such, Thailand’s has been a widely cited development success story, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction.
Thailand’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 7.5% in the boom years of 1960-1996 and 5% during 1999-2005 following the Asian Financial Crisis. This growth created millions of jobs that helped pull millions of people out of poverty.
Economic growth in Thailand is expected to contract in 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, through a decline in external demand affecting trade and tourism, supply chain disruptions and weakening domestic consumption.
Thailand is one of the members of WTO, enjoying bilateral preferential trade with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India and Peru. As a member of ASEAN, Thailand has signed Free Trade Area agreements with China, ROK, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Thailand mainly imports raw materials, semi-finished products, capital goods and fuel and exports manufactured goods, agricultural products, processed farm products and mineral products.
As an export-oriented country with trade being high on agenda, Thailand has sign free trade agreements with many countries and keeps close ties with economic giants. Thus, Thailand boasts an expansive market, especially in the areas of China-Japan-ROK, ASEAN, Europe and America, Australia and New Zealand, and India. As the complement of ASEAN community and advancement of ASEAN 10+3, ASEAN 10+6 and other trading arrangement in Asia-Pacific areas, Thai market status is expected to rise.
II. Business Opportunities
1. Aerospace Industry Sees High Growth
Over the past 30 years, the airline industry has grown exponentially due to escalating global travel demand. Passenger air traffic has doubled every 15 years since the early eighties1, and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.8% over the next 20 years to reach 7 billion passengers in 2034.
There is massive economic promise in the Asia-Pacific region given the forecast of a 20-year annual growth rate at 4.9%. In 2034, the region as a whole will account for 42% of global passenger traffic, with an extra 1.8 billion passengers. Given its immense growth potential and budding opportunities, many worldclass aerospace companies are looking to expand and locate their business in the Asia-Pacific region.
2. Alternative Energy in Thailand
In order to strengthen Thailand’s long-term energy security and global economic competitiveness the country has committed itself to develop its alternative energy capabilities. This policy emerged at the national level as the Alternative Energy and Development Plan (AEDP), a 10 year initiative (2012-2021) to better diversify and build a more sustainable energy sector. With this plan, Thailand has set the target of increasing alternative energy consumption from 9,025 ktoe (kilo tonnes of oil equivalent) in 2014 to 24,638 ktoe in 2021. The Department of Alternative Energy and Development and Efficiency has been assigned to oversee alternative and renewable energy improvement.
Now many corporations around the world are transitioning into Industry 4.0, making use of artificial intelligence, big data management, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to seamlessly work together, to exponentially increase both production and productivity.
3. Thailand’s Automotive Industry
The world is embracing to cleaner and smarter society while people’s mean of transportation like automobile also takes a step further to the next generation with more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. In 2016, 94 million automobiles were produced worldwide, the highest number in the history. Yet, those vehicles are embracing the new breakthrough technology. Ranging from hybrid to battery electric vehicle, the world aims to have EV at 40% market share of all automobile in 2040.
4. Automation and Robotics Usher in A New Era
Over the past half a century, dynamic advances in automation and robotics have been transforming both business and society. Automation and robotics were initially used to increase productivity on the production floor of factories and utilized simple technologies.
Now many corporations around the world are transitioning into Industry 4.0, making use of artificial intelligence, big data management, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to seamlessly work together, to exponentially increase both production and productivity.
III. Prohibited Goods and Restricted goods
1. Prohibited Goods are goods for which either the import into or export out of Thailand are prohibited. The following are some examples of prohibited goods: 

Pornographic materials
Counterfeit trademark goods and IPR infringing goods
Fake notes or coins
Reserved animals or CITES-listed wildlife
2. Restricted goods are goods of which the imports and exports are restricted by law and therefore require a permit from related government agencies. The permit must be presented during Customs formalities. Examples of restricted goods are as follows:
Types of Goods Issuing Authorities
Buddha image, artifact/objects, antique Fine Arts Department (http://nsw.finearts.go.th)
Guns, bullets, explosives, and the equivalents to guns Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Ministry of Interior (www.dopa.go.th)
Plants and their parts Department of Agriculture (www.doa.go.th)
Living animals and carcass  Department of Livestock Development (www.dld.go.th)
Food, medicine, cosmetics and food supplement Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (www.fda.moph.go.th)
Vehicle parts Ministry of Industry (www.industry.go.th)
Cigarettes, tobacco and alcoholic beverages Excise Department (www.excise.go.th)
Communication Radio Devices and telecommunications equipment Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (www.nbtc.go.th)
IV. Import Tariffs
Thailand’s average applied Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rate was 12.5% ad valorem in 2017. Approximately one-third of Thailand’s MFN tariff schedule involves duties of less than 5%, and 30% of tariff lines are MFN duty free, including chemicals, electronics, industrial machinery, and paper.  Thailand has bound all tariffs on agricultural products in the WTO, but only around 70% of its tariff lines on industrial products are bound.
Thailand has bound its agricultural tariffs at an average of 39.5% ad valorem, compared with its average applied MFN tariff on agricultural products of 25.1%. MFN duties on imported processed food products range from 30% to 50%, which limits the ability of U.S. exporters of such products to compete in the Thai market. Tariffs on meats, fresh fruits (including citrus fruit and table grapes) and vegetables, fresh cheese, and pulses (such as dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas) are similarly high.
Thailand’s average bound tariff for non-agricultural products is approximately 25.6%. Thailand levies high tariffs on goods such as: 80% on motor vehicles, 60% on motorcycles and certain clothing products, 54% to 60% on distilled spirits, and 30% on certain articles of plastic and restaurant equipment. Further, the country charges tariffs of 10% to 30% on certain audiovisual products, and applies a 10% tariff on most pharmaceutical products, including products on the World Health Organization list of essential medicines.
Thailand maintains the same list of tariff-rate-quota (TRQ) from its commitments under WTO agreement on agriculture since 2004. Thailand imposes domestic purchase requirements for several tariff-rate quota products, including nonfat dry milk, soybeans, soybean meal, and fresh potatoes.
V. Doing-business Notes
1. Learn the regulations of trade
Thai regulations of trade include xxx. The Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Finance take charge of trading activities. Enterprise should seek advice from lawyer about commodities, tariff and technical trade barriers.
2. Pay attention to prestige and quality
Prestige and quality are the lifeline of a company. Learn about supply and demand of the commodities in Thailand and pay attention to prestige, quality and after-sales services.
3. Do researches before doing business
It is significant to make market researches on commodities and credit investigation on trading partners. Make sure the actual goods are the same as samples. Meanwhile, watch out intermediary.
4. Emphasize on business etiquectte
Businessmen should wear formal business dress. What’s more, it will take a long time to make a decision in Thailand, so be patient when doing business with Thai businessmen.
Reference: 1. Chinese Ministry of Commerce Department of Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation
2. World Bank Group
3. Board of Investment
4. Thai Customs
5. The International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce
2020-10-25 10:44:00