Before being hit by the tsunami in 2004 and the political crisis of 2006, Thailand had achieved important results in previous years on the road to economic recovery, largely overcoming the crisis of 1997-98. This is thanks to the austerity and financial transparency measures agreed with the IMF. The export-driven economy (favored by the general recovery of the Asian economies) had resumed growing at a sustained rate of 4.5% in 2000. Both domestic consumption and industrial production had increased, while foreign investments had decreased. from 1997 to 1998. Faced with the consequences of the disaster caused by the tsunami and in view of the 2007 elections, the country confirmed the positive trend of the economy, which in 2005 recorded a growth of 4.5% and 5% in 2006.
According to Businesscarriers, the GDP recorded in 2008 was US $ 273,248 million, the GDP per capita is US $ 4,115. With regard to the Indochinese area and, more generally, to the less developed countries as a whole, Thailand presents conditions of socio-economic development which, at least from some points of view, can be considered positively. However, the characteristics of the recent development of the Thai economy are such that they still lead to severe imbalances and inherent weakness. In the first place, economic development has been achieved thanks to foreign investments, which continue to control the main part of the country’s productive and financial economy; secondly, until very recent years, the production of wealth derives almost exclusively from the intensive exploitation of natural resources (wood, rubber, agricultural and fishing products); most recently, the rapid industrialization of the country has not led to a harmonious development on the territorial level, on the contrary impoverishing the countryside and concentrating the population in the cities (in particular the capital), while the most relevant product sectors in the manufacturing sector remain strictly linked to foreign markets. The distribution of wealth is very uneven, both on the territorial level, as mentioned (the area of the capital and some tourist resorts, especially along the coast of the Gulf of Siam, are extraordinarily richer and more developed than the rest of the country), how much and, above all, on the social level: the concentration of wealth in a small number of people is a traditional feature of the Thai system, but in more recent years it has caused considerable discontent, especially on the Chinese community (long-time immigrant, it holds a significant part of the real estate wealth and commercial activities, as well as considerable interests also in the financial field), whose action is considered almost as an internal colonization. In this context, the development policies implemented by Thailand have always been timid and contradictory, preferring rather to leave the field free to the spontaneous action of the market (as requested by foreign investors and international financial organizations, which support the development of Thailand). A more decisive intervention was, however, made necessary by the very serious crisis that reached its maturity in 1997, which deeply involved the financial sector, stopping one step away from bankruptcy, not without affecting the productive economy.
Added to this are the effects of a contraction in domestic demand and growth, already noticeable during 1996 (drop in production and increase in GDP, increase in public debt) and made evident by the stock market crisis that arose in March 1997, but also by the continuous readjustment of investment flows from abroad and the game of international speculation (which first determined a progressive decline in investments, then a real flight of capital), in turn linked above all to the unfavorable trend of Japanese economy. The heavy dependence of the Thai economic system on foreign countries has thus become evident. Drastic cuts in the public budget of the state, requested by the IMF, have not alleviated the discomfort of the population, while the de facto reduction in wages and a recovery in inflation have restored interest to the delocalization operations in the manufacturing field (textiles, electronics), carried out by companies in developed countries since the 1980s. In this way, Thailand managed to overcome the crisis of the last years of the twentieth century and to resume economic growth, which saw a significant increase in rates on a par with other Southeast Asian economies. The good production capacity of the secondary sector has allowed an increase in exports. Foreign investment suffered a certain decline in 2006, in relation to the internal political crisis. increase in exports. Foreign investment suffered a certain decline in 2006, in relation to the internal political crisis. increase in exports. Foreign investment suffered a certain decline in 2006, in relation to the internal political crisis.