2021 Index of Economic Freedom

Thailand

OVERALL SCORE69.7
WORLD RANK42
Rule of Law

Property Rights60.0

Judicial Effectiveness48.1

Government Integrity45.1

Government Size

Tax Burden81.5

Government Spending86.0

Fiscal Health96.4

Regulatory Efficiency

Business Freedom85.3

Labor Freedom64.3

Monetary Freedom74.4

Open Markets

Trade Freedom80.0

Investment Freedom55.0

Financial Freedom60.0

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Quick Facts
  • Population:
    • 69.6 million
  • GDP (PPP):
    • $1.4 trillion
    • 2.4% growth
    • 3.4% 5-year compound annual growth
    • $19,228 per capita
  • Unemployment:
    • 0.8%
  • Inflation (CPI):
    • 0.7%
  • FDI Inflow:
    • $4.1 billion

Thailand’s economic freedom score is 69.7, making its economy the 42nd freest in the 2021 Index. Its overall score has increased by 0.3 point, primarily because of an improvement in business freedom. Thailand is ranked 9th among 40 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages.

The Thai economy registered its highest-ever score in this year’s Index, putting it within easy reach of the ranks of the mostly free. The government has made remarkable progress in expanding economic freedom: Scores on five of the 12 Index indicators are above 80 in the free category. Further progress will be impeded, however, without comprehensive reforms to reduce corruption and improve judicial effectiveness.

IMPACT OF COVID-19: As of December 1, 2020, 60 deaths had been attributed to the pandemic in Thailand, and the economy was forecast to contract by 7.1 percent for the year.

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Background

Thailand has experienced 19 military coups since becoming a constitutional monarchy in 1932. The period since 2006 has been particularly turbulent and ultimately resulted in a 2014 coup led by former army commander and current Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. National legislative elections held in March 2019 solidified the power of the junta-aligned Phalang Pracharat party. After the death of long-ruling and much-loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, his son, King Maha Vijiralongkorn, was crowned in May 2019. In a rare challenge to the monarchy, pro-democracy protests have continued since February 2020. Thailand’s free-market 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 60.0 Create a Graph using this measurement

Judicial Effectiveness 48.1 Create a Graph using this measurement

Government Integrity 45.1 Create a Graph using this measurement

Laws protecting property rights and contractual rights are generally well enforced. The cost of transferring registered property, however, is much higher than the regional average. The independent judiciary is generally effective, but courts are politicized, and corruption is common in the judicial system. Corruption, bribery, cronyism, and nepotism have been widespread and are viewed as a normal part of doing business.

Government SizeView Methodology

The top individual 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 14.9 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has amounted to 21.6 percent of total output (GDP) over the past three years, and budget deficits have averaged 0.4 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 41.1 percent of GDP.

Regulatory EfficiencyView Methodology

New legislation requires phased inspections during construction, which could both ease and accelerate the construction process. Getting electricity is now less expensive. More than half of the labor force earns income in the informal sector. According to the World Bank, almost one-third of the annual budget is spent on subsidies and transfers.

Open MarketsView Methodology

Thailand has 13 preferential trade agreements in force. The trade-weighted average tariff rate is 5.0 percent, and 240 nontariff measures are in effect. To facilitate greater foreign investment, measures such as abolishing regulations on minimum capital for foreign firms have been taken, 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
1Singapore89.70.3
2New Zealand83.9-0.2
3Australia82.4-0.2
4Taiwan78.61.5
5Malaysia74.4-0.3
6Japan74.10.8
7South Korea740.0
8Kazakhstan71.11.5
9Thailand69.70.3
10Indonesia66.9-0.3
11Brunei Darussalam66.60.0
12Philippines64.1-0.4
13Kyrgyz Republic63.70.8
14Mongolia62.46.5
15Fiji62.2-1.2
16Samoa61.9-0.2
17Vietnam61.72.9
18Vanuatu60.5-0.2
19Papua New Guinea58.90.5
20China58.4-1.1
21Uzbekistan58.31.1
22Bhutan58.3-3.8
23Tonga57.5-1.3
24Cambodia57.30.0
25Bangladesh 56.50.1
26India56.50.0
27Solomon Islands56.53.6
28Sri Lanka55.7-1.7
29Tajikistan55.23.0
30Burma55.21.2
31Maldives55.2-1.3
32Laos53.9-1.6
33Afghanistan53-1.7
34Pakistan51.7-3.1
35Nepal50.7-3.5
36Micronesia50.4-1.6
37Turkmenistan47.40.9
38Timor-Leste44.7-1.2
39Kiribati44.4-0.8
40North Korea5.21.0
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