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ASEAN ANALYSIS  9 September 2010

Thailand slips two positions in WEF rankings

By David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs   9 September 2010

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Considering the events that have taken place in 2010 in Thailand , mainly the two-month red shirt protest, Thailand slipped only two points to 38th place from the 2009-2010 ranking of 36 on the World Economic Forum ‘s Annual Competitiveness Report . Perhaps a sigh of relief can be heard running through the halls of government and the Thai Chamber of Commerce on that news.

Examining the report in detail on the 30-point “Most Problematic Factors for Doing Business”, the main loss leaders for Thailand here were: Government instability/coups, 24.8; Policy instability, 16.4; Inefficient government bureaucracy, 13.4 and Corruption, 11.4.

Expatriates and expatriate businesspersons here could probably come up with these ratings off the top of their heads. For those not living here check out blogs or letters to the editor on the two English-language newspaper sites and one is likely to find complaints or issues about these areas of concern on a weekly basis. Also check AseanAffairs daily News Updates for stories on all of the Asean countries.

On the positive side, workforce education, tax rates, access to financing, tax regulations, work ethic, labor regulations and foreign currency regulations scored between 7.1 and 1.6 points, meaning there weren’t very many difficulties there.

In the categories of inflation, crime and theft and public health, there are hardly any problems. Thailand scores well on two basic requirements, health and primary education and institutions but not as well on macroeconomic development and the infrastructure needs improvement. Perhaps that is why the current government is putting so much funding into infrastructure development.

The report encompasses 139 countries and this year’s ranking of 38 puts Thailand in a good neighbourhood, relatively speaking. However, most everyone residing in the country, Thai and foreigner alike, knows the country can do better and that’s why the current reconciliation and reform efforts are so important.

Make the government more stable, develop stable and continuing policies, make the bureaucracy more transparent and responsive, tackle corruption and get 3G services off the ground and Thailand can easily climb in the rankings.

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