The political landscape in Thailand leaves little to be desired. Protests, demonstrations, and government crackdowns are not the indicators investors yearn for in typical economic markets. Bangkok, however, is no typical city or market. It is not just a metropolis, but a booming economic hub and an entertainment mecca. It is a market that has overcome political turbulence in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. It is an emerging market any ambitious executive or investor would be a fool to disregard.
Taking Advantage of the Opportunity
China has outgrown its “emerging market” status. Its rise to a considerable force in the global economy has left a void in which the nations of Southeast Asia will likely fill; namely these states provide a significant labour force which can manufacture and produce products in a cost-effective manner. Thailand, Bangkok in particular, is more than capable of taking advantage of this opportunity. Thailand already maintains a status as a regional powerhouse; due to previous investments and market history, the Thai market possesses a step up from the “pre-emerging” markets of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. As a mini-power in the region, Bangkok provides investors a great way to enter into these other markets with less risk. This is because Bangkok is a major Southeast Asian trading hub, with a highly developed port system and a more advanced highway system to transport goods throughout the region. Its resources and infrastructure can compensate for the inadequacies found in these other economies until further development has matured.
Impact of Tourism
Beyond its infrastructure advantages over other Southeast Asian markets, Bangkok also boasts great opportunities within multiple economic sectors, the most noted of these being in tourism. Bangkok is an established tourist mecca, drawing a projected 15.98 million visitors in 2013. It was named the top destination city by international visitor arrivals in 2013, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, surpassing the usual suspects of London and Paris. This is even more incredible considering the violent military crackdown on demonstrators in 2010. The tourism sector has continuously proven to rebound and surged year-after-year, despite outbursts of political unrest and note-worthy violence.
While tourism is a large component of Bangkok’s economic profile, its export sector is the true juggernaut of its economy. Exports, including products such as automobiles and rice, account for over sixty percent of Thailand’s 224billion pound economy. Thailand is the world’s biggest rice and rubber exporter, as well as the world’s second largest sugar exporter. Bangkok, as Thailand’s capital and economic hub, reaps many of the rewards of these exportation gains.
Cost of Living
One of the greatest opportunities found within Bangkok is its economic affordability. In the manufacturing sector, its labour costs are relatively low compared to other Southeast Asian centers; similar comparisons can be found in other industries. The cost of living is also advantageous for expatriates. It’s an Asian alternative that offers modern Western conveniences at a price that’s still affordable.
Bangkok has also developed into a successful player within the electronics and auto industries. Business firms within Bangkok now produce an estimated forty percent of all computer hard disk drives in the world. Further, Thai automobile manufacturers built more light trucks in the year 2010 than the Japanese. Prominent companies such as Toyota and Ford have increased activity in factories within Bangkok’s periphery, which has also spurred and the expansion of increased domestic steel production.
Bangkok is a fascinating example of triumph against the odds. Its economy has been dealt blows from historic flooding to military coups; many other markets would simply crash from the onslaught of obstacles. However, through a combination of steely resolve, ingenuity and geopolitical circumstance, Bangkok not only survives but thrives.
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