Person wearing conical hat

Photo by Unsplash / Lisheng Chang

East Asia & Pacific

Over the last four decades, Thailand has made remarkable progress in social and economic development, moving from a low-income to an upper middle-income country in less than a generation. As such, Thailand has been a widely cited development success story, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction. Thailand’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 7.5% in the boom years of 1960-1996 and 5% during 1999-2005 following the Asian Financial Crisis. This growth created millions of jobs that helped pull millions of people out of poverty. Gains along multiple dimensions of welfare have been impressive: more children are getting more years of education, and virtually everyone is now covered by health insurance while other forms of social security have expanded.

However, the growth prospects from the export-led model that not long ago powered so much of Thailand’s economic growth seem to have diminished significantly, owing to a stagnation in productivity. Private investment declined from more than 40% in 1997 to 16.9% of GDP in 2019, while foreign direct investment flows and participation in global value chains have shown signs of stagnation.

Thailand’s 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI) of 0.61 indicates that the future productivity of a child born today will be 39% below what could have been achieved with complete education and full health. Thailand is renowned for its universal health care program (UHC) and success in child nutrition, but quality of education remains a weak point for the country’s human development. According to the Index, the country ranks high in quantity (expected years) of schooling and in the fraction of children not stunted, but low in education quality—measured by harmonized test scores. Social assistance schemes are fragmented, with untapped opportunities to modernize the level of benefits packages and efficiency.

The increasing frequency of natural disasters is also a threat to sustained economic growth, as it has come at the cost of the environment and inclusion. Greenhouse gas emissions have risen markedly during this recent period of rapid growth, as has inequality between the country’s regions and firms.Thailand is a major marine plastic polluter on land, in river systems, and along coastlines. With the country’s National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Debris 2023-2027, and Bio-Circular-Green Economy (BCG Model), Thailand set out the goal to identify public-private-people mechanisms for plastic waste segregation and enhance plastics circularity.  

Source: World Bank, Thailand Country Overview

Investment OpportunitiesDescribes the number of investment opportunities in the country.
Most Affected SDGsDescribes the three priority SDGs the investment opportunities address in the country.
Good health and well-being (SDG 3) Zero Hunger (SDG 2) Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11)
Priority Target SectorsDescribes the three priority sectors the investment opportunities address in the country, based on the SASB Sustainable Industry Classification System®️ (SICS®️) classification.
Food and Beverage, Services, Renewable Resources and Alternative Energy
Ease of Doing Business ScoreDeveloped by the World Bank, the Ease of Doing Business Score helps assess the absolute level of regulatory performance over time. An economy’s ease of doing business score is reflected on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the lowest and 100 represents the best performance.
See the World Bank Ease of Doing Business site for more information.
Human Development IndexDeveloped by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Human Development Index is a summary measure for assessing a country’s long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
See the UNDP Human Development Index site for more information.


Opportunities 15 Investment Opportunity Areas