BISEA Roadshow 2020: Focus on Thailand

The high growth, high demand markets of the South East Asian nations provides one of the most exciting investment regions of the world for SME’s in the UK.  Collectively they are known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

The Sheffield Chamber International Trade Centre in conjunction with the British Chambers Overseas have people on the ground in all of the ASEAN markets which include development areas such as Myanmar and Cambodia and high growth markets who appreciate the quality and trustful business practice of the brand ‘Made in the UK’

On the 10th March we will be hosting the CEO’s of our Indonesia; Thailand; Malaysia and Vietnam partners in Sheffield at the Chamber of Commerce.  We will however be able to discuss opportunities in the wider region which will include the Philippines and Singapore.

Book your attendance HERE.

The opportunities for UK Businesses in the regions


Focus on Thailand

Ranked 27th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, Thailand continues to offer a wide rage of exciting business opportunities for UK companies prepared to take a serious interest in this dynamic market. Thailand is keen to boost its competitiveness and Thais hold UK products, services and people in high regard. Best-kept secret in South East Asia.

With a population of 68 million, the second largest economy in ASEAN, a highly developed manufacturing sector, well-developed infrastructure and pro-investment policies, Thailand has a strong offer to UK companies. Thailand is the leading automotive manufacturer in South East Asia, 9th largest in the world.

Doing Business in Thailand

  • Thailand remains among the top 30 of the 190 economies in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey, placing at 27 in 2019
  • Thailand has moved up five places, to 25th from 30th, in IMD’s World Competitiveness Survey 2019 due to improved economic performance, government efficiency and infrastructure
  • Thailand ranks 40th out of 162 countries (top among ASEAN countries) surveyed on development progress relating to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Thailand was in the “Innovation Fast Move” group and a country that had a remarkable performance in market sophistication, knowledge and technology outputs according to the GII report
  • Thailand’s healthcare services are 6th best in world – CEOWORLD magazine – September 2019
  • Bangkok – 86/122 most expensive prime office rents – CBRE in September 2019 – good value for money
  • Thailand ranked 25/64 destinations to live and work – Expat Insider 2019 Survey (lowest)
  • Bangkok No.1 destination city globally – 22 million+ overnight visitors (Mastercard Index)
  • Low tax environment: corporate 20%, VAT 7%
  • Good infrastructure; reliable utilities & comms; hard-working & adaptable workforce
  • Investor-friendly tax and non-tax incentives incl services. Regional opportunities (and threats) from AEC
  • Business Insider magazine and PwC – December 2017- by 2050 Thailand will be 25th largest economy in the world – 5 SE Asia markets in top 25 (Indonesia 4, Philippines 19, Vietnam 20, Malaysia 24)

UK Presence in Thailand

  • Exports – 17.8% up in 2018. SE Asia average 5%. Good in services. Visibles: Germany more than double UK share of Thailand’s imports. Why?
  • The UK presence in Thailand is large with major players including Tesco (their largest overseas operation), Shell, Reckitt Benckiser, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Triumph Motorcycles and Prudential
  • Strong bilateral relationship – trading for more than 400 years
  • Thais regard Brits as reliable and good to do business with – about 50,000 resident Brit expats
  • British brands are well-respected – union jack/royal crest on products works – seen as high quality
  • The value of trade between Thailand and UK amounts to more than £5 billion a year
  • 41.32% of total foreign holdings of Thai equities as at end May 2019 is from UK
  • Nearly 1 million British tourists visit Thailand every year
  • Thai-UK Business Leadership Council established in 2016 by Thai PM to develop bilateral trade and investment
  • BCCT also works with Thai industry through Board of Trade of Thailand and Thai Chamber of Commerce is focusing on bilateral market access issues and improving ease of doing business
  • Thailand 4.0 – targeting ‘tech’ sectors – where UK has strong expertise


  • Need investment in time and commitment, some financial investment in market entry – BCCT
  • Understanding regulatory environment and market access requirements – takes time, local knowledge is key – BCCT. Two key skills needed – patience & common sense
  • However, there are often legal work-arounds to achieve objectives e.g. Board of Investment. Again, in-country knowledge & advice is key
  • Lack of transparency in government procurement
  • Poor Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement
  • Foreign ownership restrictions in some sectors, especially services – 100% ownership permitted in most manufacturing
  • Complex customs requirements – must ensure documentation 100% correct. Payment of import duties can now be made in advance online or over-the-counter in Thailand. Free online advance assessment of duty to be paid
  • Low unemployment and steady economic growth reduces availability of highly – skilled staff – huge vocational education opportunity & challenge

Key Sectors & Opportunities

  • Automotive: next-generation (EEC); car production increased by 2.2% in 2018 mainly due to growth of domestic demand
  • Wholesale & Retail: sales grew at 5.6% in 2018, led by retail sales which presented 9.4% growth in 2018. New shopping malls and retail concepts opening across country
  • ICT: Digital (EEC); Robotics (EEC); e-commerce, e-government, transport technology, cyber security, data centres
  • Transport/Infrastructure: £32 billion investment plan in 2018-2022 to transform the country into a regional economic hub in trade, investment, tourism, communication, transportation aviation and logistics (EEC)
  • Agri-business & Food/Drink: one of region’s largest markets. Advanced Agriculture and Biotechnology (EEC); Food Processing (EEC); New more sophisticated technology. Smart farming systems. Growing tourism sector. Higher middle-class disposable income
  • Power & Renewable Energy: Biofuel and Biochemical (EEC); energy deficit. Masterplan: 25% of needs from renewables by 2022
  • Education & Skills: Education (EEC); Vocational education; university collaboration for AI and robotics course and experts. English and creative thinking skills are highly valued by Thai parents and students
  • Engineering: Intelligent Electronics (EEC); petrochemicals & machinery and automotive. BOI’s scheme for hybrids, plugin hybrid and battery electric vehicles in 2019
  • Pharmaceutical & Healthcare: Comprehensive Healthcare (EEC); the second largest healthcare market in Southeast Asia. 70% of medical devices imported. High Wealth and Medical Tourism (EEC); Hospital certification. Medical Hub of ASEAN by 2025

Why Invest in Thailand?

Digital Infrastructure

Thailand has also undertaken numerous projects to strengthen the country’s ICT infrastructure, guided by the National Digital Economy Master Plan (2016-2020). The government has worked on providing free Wi-Fi hot spots in almost 25,000 villages across the country, creating a national broadband network and connecting to almost 75,000 villages, as well as all schools and local hospitals.

Leading Foreign Direct Investment Destination

As a magnet for foreign investment, FDI stock in Thailand has soared from USD 95 billion in 2008 to USD 219 billion in 2017; a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.72% over the decade. Having grown at an increasing rate for the last 5 consecutive years, and with this growth expected to continue throughout 2019.

Huge Development in Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)

Thai government has generated a long-term infrastructure plan to accelerate economic growth. This plan prioritizes the improvement of existing infrastructure as well as the construction of numerous new projects in many areas including smart cities, expansion of airports, seaports, roads, rail systems and ICT infrastructure through promotion of key S-Curve sectors.

Strategic Location

Thailand’s strategic location in the heart of ASEAN connected with the fast-growing CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) countries makes  it an ideal location for businesses and business investors.


To book your 20 minute one-to-one meeting with Greg Watkins, Executive Director of British Chamber of Commerce Thailand, please register HERE, then email Yulia Briscoe ( at Sheffield International Trade Centre to organise time of your one-to-one.

Read the full presentation:  Thailand presentation

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