Thailand is the United States’ 27th largest goods trading partner. Two-way trade in 2014 totaled approximately $38 billion, with about $27 billion in Thai exports to the U.S. and $11 billion in U.S. exports to Thailand. In Asia, Thailand ranks as the United States’ 9th largest trading partner after China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Singapore and Malaysia.
The Thai economy is export-dependent with exports accounting for about 61 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014. Since recovering from the Asian Financial Crisis in the late 1990s, Thailand enjoyed real GDP performance averaging about 5 percent. In 2010, Thailand’s economy expanded about 8 percent, its fastest pace since 1995. However, in early 2014, real GDP growth significantly declined from 2012 estimates of 6.5% to 0.7% as a result of the May 2014 coup. The coup also caused a decrease in consumer spending and generated higher household debt (household debt to GDP ratio over 80%). Private consumption and investment, the primary components of domestic demand and the primary drivers of growth in 2012, weakened in 2013 into 2014. Thai GDP per capita is approximately $14,400 (2014 est.).The U.S. and Thailand have enjoyed a special commercial relationship for 182 years, since the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Under the treaty, with the exception of some sectors, U.S. companies operating in Thailand are afforded national treatment, or an “equal playing field,” with Thai companies.
Export and investment opportunities for U.S. products and services are growing in Thailand, especially with the government’s plan to spend an estimated $75 billion in infrastructure over the next seven years and the country’s liberal foreign investment climate. Best prospect sectors for U.S. companies include electrical power, telecommunications, and renewable energy. U.S. companies supplying defense, broadcast, food processing and packaging equipment and environmental technology will also find promising opportunities in the Thai market. Demand for U.S. medical products, cosmetics, automotive accessories, food supplements and educational services continue to grow as Thai consumers have a preference for American products and services.
The U.S. Commercial Service offers resources for those looking to enter the Thai market. Our Country Commercial Guide helps inform U.S. companies on doing business in Thailand and covers a range of topics from the country’s investment climate, to selling a product or service in country. To obtain a copy of the Thailand Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies or for more information please visit our website www.export.gov/thailand.