2019 Index of Economic Freedom

Thailand

overall score68.3
world rank43
Rule of Law

Property Rights53.7

Government Integrity36.4

Judicial Effectiveness45.9

Government Size

Government Spending85.8

Tax Burden81.3

Fiscal Health96.5

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom82.5

Labor Freedom63.9

Monetary Freedom75.2

Open Markets

Trade Freedom83.0

Investment Freedom55.0

Financial Freedom60.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 69.1 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $1.2 trillion
    • 3.9% growth
    • 2.8% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $17,856 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 1.1%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 0.7%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $7.6 billion

Thailand’s economic freedom score is 68.3, making its economy the 43rd freest in the 2019 Index. Its overall score has increased by 1.2 points, the result of improved scores for property rights, business freedom, and government integrity. Thailand is ranked 10th among 43 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages.

To revive economic growth, the military-controlled government has prioritized policies to boost consumption and investment, including increased public spending on infrastructure, and has gradually made the regulatory framework more efficient and transparent to attract investment and better integrate the economy into the global marketplace. Business-formation procedures have been streamlined, and the financial sector has been opened to competition. The level of trade freedom is relatively high, but nontariff barriers still undercut gains from trade. The judicial system remains vulnerable to political interference, and pervasive corruption undermines government integrity.

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Background

Thailand has had 19 military coups since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932. The period since the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006 has been particularly turbulent. Civilian government returned in 2007, and Thaksin’s Puea Thai party won a majority in 2011 parliamentary elections. Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, became prime minister but was later ousted in a 2014 coup led by former army commander and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. The king approved a new constitution in 2017. Elections, postponed four times, are currently planned for 2019. Thailand’s free-enterprise economy benefits from relatively well-developed infrastructure. Exports of electronics, agricultural commodities, automobiles and parts, processed foods, and other goods account for about two-thirds of GDP.

Rule of LawView Methodology

Property Rights 53.7 Create a Graph using this measurement

Government Integrity 36.4 Create a Graph using this measurement

Judicial Effectiveness 45.9 Create a Graph using this measurement

Property rights are well enforced, and recent improvements have made registering property easier and enforcing contracts less cumbersome. The land administration system’s reliability has improved. The independent judiciary, while generally effective, has been criticized for political bias. Widespread counterfeiting and piracy still plague owners of intellectual property rights. Corruption is widespread and viewed as a normal part of doing business.

Government SizeView Methodology

The top personal income tax rate is 35 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 20 percent. Other taxes include value-added and property taxes. The overall tax burden equals 15.6 percent of total domestic income. Over the past three years, government spending has amounted to 21.8 percent of the country’s output (GDP), with budgets essentially in balance. Public debt is equivalent to 41.9 percent of GDP.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

Thailand’s government has taken measures to enhance regulatory efficiency. The overall regulatory framework has become more efficient and transparent, with streamlined business-formation procedures. Labor regulations are relatively flexible, but informal labor activity remains substantial. The government has eliminated price controls on sugar but has raised oil subsidies and heavily subsidizes rice.

Open MarketsView Methodology

The combined value of exports and imports is equal to 121.7 percent of GDP. The average applied tariff rate is 3.5 percent. As of June 30, 2018, according to the WTO, Thailand had 245 nontariff measures in force. The government has undertaken measures to facilitate investment, but foreign ownership in some sectors remains capped. The financial system has undergone restructuring, and the stock exchange is active and open to foreign investors.

Country's Score Over Time

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Regional Ranking

rank country overall change
1Hong Kong90.20.0
2Singapore89.40.6
3New Zealand84.40.2
4Australia80.90.0
5Taiwan77.30.7
6Malaysia 74-0.5
7South Korea72.3-1.5
8Japan72.1-0.2
9Macau710.1
10Thailand 68.31.2
11Indonesia65.81.6
12Kazakhstan65.4-3.7
13Azerbaijan65.41.1
14Brunei Darussalam65.10.9
15Philippines63.8-1.2
16Bhutan62.91.1
17Kyrgyz Republic 62.3-0.5
18Fiji62.20.2
19Samoa62.20.7
20China58.40.6
21Papua New Guinea58.42.7
22Cambodia57.8-0.9
23Tonga57.7-5.4
24Laos57.43.8
25Sri Lanka56.4-1.4
26Vanuatu56.4-13.1
27Bangladesh 55.60.5
28Tajikistan55.6-2.7
29Mongolia55.4-0.3
30Vietnam55.32.2
31India55.20.7
32Pakistan 550.6
33Solomon Islands54.6-2.9
34Nepal53.8-0.3
35Burma53.6-0.3
36Uzbekistan53.31.8
37Maldives53.22.1
38Micronesia51.9-0.4
39Afghanistan51.50.2
40Turkmenistan48.41.3
41Kiribati47.3-3.5
42Timor-Leste44.2-3.9
43North Korea5.90.1
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