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Setting up Business in Thailand –  In modern times Thailand enjoys a robust economy in the Asian region. Thailand’s march into the big league has come about through testing times though. Predominantly, Thailand has been an agrarian economy blessed with bountiful crops of rice, maize, rubber, sugar cane, cassava and more. Rich hauls of sea food, primarily in the form of shrimp complemented the agricultural sector and the mid 1990s saw Thailand emerging as a strong exporting market for agricultural produce and sea foods.

Industrialisation in Thailand was not at the cost of agriculture but as an extension of the agriculture creating value added products and focusing on import substitution. Food processing was in the forefront of industrialisation and this has paid rich dividends over time.

During the progress from basic agri-based manufacturing towards more sophistication, the innate flexibility of Thai population came in handy. Natural resources were available in plenty and labor was cheap. Further impetus came from significant foreign direct investment into sectors like electronics, processed food, chemicals and property. Japan(A 50% investor in the new Bangkok Airport), Korea, China and America brought in substantial amounts of money into Thailand and the low manufacturing costs worked as a major trigger. Over 50% of Thailand’s industrial output and some 20% of industrial workforce are from these foreign direct investment.

Most of Thai business enterprises comprise of small and medium scale establishments. An equity of 10 million baht and a maximum of 50 employees will qualify for a small scale enterprise while the medium scale enterprise will call for investment in the range of 1- to 100 million baht with an employee strength going up to 200. Thai Limited companies enjoy a series of legal covenants and measures to repatriate profits earned. Many of these covenants are absent with other forms of business organization.

Dependence on imported crude has worked as a major drain on the country’s economy. Some efforts are under way to find sustainable oil in the Gulf of Thailand but there is no definite time scale available presently. Measures to explore various alternate energy sources are under way and include nuclear power.

As at 2011, the economic scene in Thailand can be considered vibrant with tourism having taken the center stage or in tandem with exports.

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed some serious political unrest in Thailand. However, the 2011 Thai elections should put in place a popular government that can last its full term. A redeeming factor for the business community is that these political machinations have not impacted trade and commerce in any significant measure.

The Thai laws governing setting up business enterprises by foreigners are investor friendly and there are several specialised agencies that will help you through the process. As with most other nations, you would be expected to bring in the required capital, expertise in your chosen field of activity, and credentials to support your claims. Partnering with a local company or a local sponsor may also be required in some instances.

Thailand has shown great resilience in keeping business and economy anchored away from politics. Thus, though political events do influence business at some point or the other the impact is never overwhelming.

Thailand is undoubtedly a happening nation and there are opportunities abound in the hospitality sector, manufacturing, exports and perhaps even the Information technology. It in particular can be considered to be in its nascent stages, given the language barriers that exist presently. But, if your thoughts gravitate towards IT, you can take a cue from the neighbouring China which has made huge headways inspire of similar linguistic constraints.