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Successful Businesses in Thailand

April 10, 2014 | Valerie Wong

“Sanuk!”- Be Happy! Thais are known for their happy, relaxed, non-confrontational, tolerant, conforming and cool disposition. They are family-oriented, polite and pleasant. It is indeed the Land of Smiles!

Thailand opened its doors to foreign merchants before the 1940s. After World War II, economic globalization commenced. In spite of political and social unrests Thailand was subjected to, economy continued to flourish. In 2013, its GDP growth was at 2.9%, with a GDP per capita of USD 5,309.  Though the country is considered newly industrialized, Thailand is deemed to be the second largest economy in Southeast Asia. The Thai economy thrives on the export industry, but its GDP primarily rests on the industrial and services sectors.

Top 10 Richest Business Men in Thailand

In July, 2013, Forbes posted on its website the 50 richest businessmen in Thailand.  The top 10 on the list are: Dhanin Chearavanont & family (Charoen Pokphand);  Chirathivat family (Central Group, Erawan Group); Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (ThaiBev);  Yoovidhya family (Red Bull), Krit Ratanarak (BBTV); Chamnong Bhirombhakdi & family (Boon Rawd Brewery);  Vanich Chaiyawan (Thai Insurance); Vichai Maleenont & family (Bec World Co.); Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth (Bangkok Dusit Medical Services); and Thaksin Shinawatra & family (Shin Corporation).

These astute businessmen established enterprises dealing with the food and beverage industry, real estate, medical and healthcare facilities, retail stores, hypermarts, transportation & aviation, media and insurance. These businessmen are self-made in the sense that they all started out as young and hopeful entrepreneurs searching for that veritable pot of gold. These men found the need of the consumers and provided the right product and services to answer those needs. Hard word and determination brought about the unprecedented success for these men and their corporations.

Why Do Business in Thailand?

As one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand's trade with the member countries such as the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, is very favorable with its zero import duties.  Its location is strategic as it is deemed the “gateway” into Asia, thereby establishing a convenient trade route with other Asian countries (India, China) and facilitating access to sub-regions in the Greater Mekong.

The growing economy of Thailand is based on the profitable domestic consumer market and export industry.  The country is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and boasts of a cost-effective yet skilled work force. Though majority of Thais are Buddhists, the practice of one's personal belief is well-accepted in the country.

Add to these pros the low-business costs and wonderful climate of the country, and doing business in Thailand is attractive.

Businesses to Establish in Thailand

According to the 2013 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies published on www.export.gov. , the leading sectors for U.S. export and investments are in the areas of: aviation, broadcast equipment, defense equipment, education services, food processing and packaging equipment, medical services, pollution control, oil and gas machinery and services and telecommunication. In the Agricultural sector are wheat, cotton, fresh fruits, soybeans, wine, snack food and dried fruits and nuts. As one can see, these sectors will demand a great deal of capital and work more suitable for conglomerates.

There are numerous establishments in the retail, hospitality and entertainment sectors put up by foreign investors who have opted to work and live in Thailand.  

The Import/Export sector is quite promising in Thailand. An investor can either manufacture or buy local items such as wood carvings and export them to his native country. It is also possible to import in-demand items from abroad to Thailand. The important aspect is to find the “need” of Thai and foreign consumers and meet that need.

Opening a specialty food shop is another possibility in Thailand. A shop specializing in Italian or French cuisine or German sausages will bode well as long as an investor caters to expats and tourists. In this connection, the location is of utmost importance. There are foreigners who opted to establish beer bars in Bangkok and other tourist spots in Thailand. Since this type of establishment cannot be registered as a Co. Ltd., owners registered such establishments under a local's name (more often a wife or a girlfriend) that they have no papers to present for visa application. The same predicament goes with opening a coffee shop or a restaurant.

Opening up a guesthouse, a resort or hotel could be lucrative as long as the investor could rent or buy a suitable property.  In line with this, a travel agency is also a good business venture in Thailand.

What matters most in establishing a business in Thailand is to find the need, the right location and the right people who help an investor in facilitating a business.  The process could be tedious at the least.

Why go through all the hassles? Servcorp is fully qualified and equipped to help you in all aspects of your quest to open up a business venture in Thailand.