Thailand: About Thailand – Part 2

2015-06-12

Economy, religion, currency, and banking

Economy

Heavily dependant on exports, which make up nearly 60% of GDP, the Thai economy is currently growing at a good rate. Agriculture is the backbone of the Thai economy and is where most of the population work: about 60% of Thailand’s labour force is involved in agriculture. Rice is the country’s most important crop; Thailand is a major exporter in the world rice market.

Besides rice, the other significant products from agriculture include fish and fishery products, tapioca, rubber, corn, and sugar. Exports of processed foods such as canned tuna, pineapples, and frozen shrimp are all increasing.

Manufacturing is a growth sector with computers, electronics, garments and footwear, furniture, wood products, canned food, toys, plastic products, gems, and jewellery all exhibiting quick growth. High-technology products such as integrated circuits and parts, electrical appliances, and vehicles are now leading Thailand’s export growth.

The United States is Thailand’s largest export market and second-largest supplier after Japan. While Thailand’s traditional major markets have been North America, Japan, and Europe, economic recovery among Thailand’s regional trading partners is becoming more important. Machinery and parts, vehicles, electronic integrated circuits, chemicals, crude oil and fuels, and iron and steel are among Thailand’s principal imports.

Religion

The dominant religion in Thailand is Buddhism [about 95% of Thais are Buddhist] and religion plays a large role in all aspects of life. In business, common examples of this include visits by monks to buildings, offices, building sites, or to special events such as company anniversaries to give their blessing. Most offices will have a Buddhist marking, typically of white chalk resembling a handwritten symbol, above doors or near the company logo and especially in places such as reception areas, and most buildings also have a god house on the premises.

Selecting dates and times for events and other important times such as a launch date for a product will often see the involvement of a monk or temple. Don’t be surprised if the date is chosen for its auspiciousness and not its relationship to other events.

The impact of religion on the Thai personality is very clear, in particular the need to avoid conflict.

Currency and Banking

The currency of Thailand is the baht. Currency exchange is quite easy in Thailand, given that it has such a large tourism industry. Most hotels can exchange major currencies and most banks have exchange booths in popular tourist areas.

ATMs are easily located in most areas of Bangkok and other larger cities.

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