Country Rankings - Thailand
Aug 28, 2014 Thailand: soldiers in suitsI am beginning to fear for the future of Thailand. Economically, Thailand has been one of the glowing beacons of South East Asia: in recent years its governments have generally embraced free enterprise by following pro-investment policies and this has cultivated strong export industries, a well-developed infrastructure and an unemployment rate of less than 1 percent of the labor force – one of the lowest in the world. But, as a result of civil unrest sparked by Yingluck Shinawatra's increasingly unpopular government, it now has the military in charge. The idea was that the military government would be a transitional phase, with power handed back to a civilian administration once order had been restored. The trouble is, dictatorships, even in temporary and benign form, tend to stick around after they get a taste for power, and so it has proved again, after General Prayuth Chan-ocha was appointed Prime Minister last week following a parliamentary vote in which he was the only candidate, with the whole thing seemingly done and dusted in a matter of minutes. What's all this got to do with tax? Well, shortly before this parliamentary "vote," the military-led and Orwellian-sounding National Council for Peace and Order announced plans for tax reform, including a new inheritance tax and a property tax, the details of which remain sketchy. The government's intentions are laudable enough. The idea is that tax hikes on the wealthy will subsidize tax cuts for the lowest-paid. But perhaps soldiers should do what soldiers do best – fighting wars rather than meddling with the economy. Just because the General has swapped his uniform for a suit doesn't mean he's qualified to run a government.
Mar 14, 2013 Thailand: a trading nationThe European Commission is making rapid use of the permission it received in 2009 to negotiate free trade deals with outside countries, with Thailand being the latest recipient of its favors. Although there are some messy aspects of Thai governance, the country seems to be getting things right in its second Shinawatra period, with significant cuts to both corporate and individual tax, and an open trading policy which has seen ongoing trade talks with the US, Canada and South Korea among others. Growth last year was over 6% and is expected to top 5% this year. Since The King And I put Siam, as it then was, on the world's consciousness map, Thailand and its monarch have received mostly a bad press. Perhaps now things are going to change for the better.
Jan 17, 2013 Thailand: may not deserve its bad pressThe Heritage Foundation (that word again) does not have very warm words for Thailand, ranking it only 61st in the world on its index of economic freedoms, and criticizing it for endemic corruption and weak rule of law. The country was hit by severe flooding last year, and some of the government's fiscal loosening over recent months can be attributed to that, but still and all it has to be complimented for a sustained series of tax cuts both for individuals and corporates. It is not easy to make out from a distance, and amongst the smog of reportage on the sex industry, the royal family and the Shinawatra dynasty just how friendly the administration might be to incoming foreign investors, but perhaps Thailand is no worse than rivals South Korea and Vietnam in that respect.