A seminar at the Empress Hotel Chiang Mai, arranged by
the National Production Development Institute and the Office of National
Socio-economic Development was told that the Thailand investment atmosphere
was not as rosy as some people would have you believe.
Dr. Phanich Laosirirat, director of the Production
Development Project survey said the project surveyed data provided by 1,518
industrial companies and service providers from March 2004 onwards which was
then analyzed by the Office of National Socio-economic Development and
experts from the World Bank. The survey was carried out in 40 countries at
the same time and completed in August.
It was found that investment in Thailand was at
international standards and better than neighboring countries like Cambodia
and the Philippines, but not Malaysia. However, Thailand business is
suffering from lack of foreign investment due to strict government
regulations and lack of skilled labor, especially in the field of IT. This
also affects the country’s ability to compete.
Furthermore, the country’s basic infrastructures are
not enough to meet the needs of the small, mid and large businesses, which
is considered the most important factor.
“Over the past four years the government has paid no
interest in industrial management efficiency to compete with foreign
businesses, but instead wasted resources and lacked on skills development.
The survey showed that the increase in GDP was not an indicator of a good
strong Thai economy or a good investment atmosphere. “Compared to
Singapore, with a population of only 4-5 million, the GDP is 1.5 times
higher than Thailand,” said Dr. Phanich.
He also added that regional investment is still not
viable in the eyes of foreign investors and domestic business owners even
though industry has expanded, especially in the East and the Central
regions. If the government supports this area the investment picture might
improve overall. As for the North and South, there is a lack of efficiency
in industry but strong in other areas like service. There is not much
interest in investment in these areas.
The government needs to urgently evaluate the business
environment of the industrial sector compared to competitor countries which
will require new policy implementations and new strategies to benefit future
regional level investment.