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Asia's Turning Point: An Introduction to Asia's Dynamic Economies at the Dawn of the New Century by Philippe Debroux, Ivan Tselichtchev

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13

Thailand: Rice Bowl, Regional Factory, and Land of Smiles

A Few Basics

Thailand is a middle-income country with a population of 65 million. In 2007, it was the thirty-third largest economy in the world in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nominal gross domestic product (GDP) ranking. In terms of per-capita GDP (purchasing power parity (PPP)) in 2007, which was US$9,714, it ranked seventy-third between Turkey and Tunisia.

Thailand has a diversified economy with manufacturing industries such as electrical and electronic machinery and auto production (these two sectors are dominated by foreign subsidiaries), petrochemicals, construction materials, the food industry, textiles, and footwear taking the lead. Agriculture, which is largely export-oriented, also remains a very important sector—Thailand is called “the rice bowl of Asia.” Other major crops include rubber, corn (maize), cassava, sugarcane, peanuts, soybeans, coconuts, cotton, jute and kenaf, and tobacco. The service sector has been rapidly expanding in recent decades. The tourism, transportation, hotel, and catering industries are strong. Also, Thailand is growing into a financial center for mainland Southeast Asia.

In 2007, agriculture comprised 11.4 percent of GDP, industry 43.9 percent, and services 44.7 percent (ADB 2008). The share of agriculture in the total number of persons employed is very high at 39.5 percent against 15.5 percent for manufacturing and 45. percent for other industries, mainly services (ADB ...

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