When the capital of the Kingdom moved to Bangkok during the 19th century, foreign trade (particularly with China) became the focus of the government. Chinese merchants came to trade; some settled in the country and received official positions. A number of Chinese merchants and migrants became high dignitaries in the court.
From the mid-nineteenth century onward, European merchants were increasingly active. The Bowring Treaty, signed in 1855, guaranteed the privileges of British traders. The Harris Treaty of 1856, which updated the Roberts Treaty of 1833, extended the same guarantees to American traders.
The domestic market developed slowly, with serfdom a possible root of domestic stagnation. Most of the male population in Siam was in the service of court officials, while their wives and daughters may have traded on a small scale in local markets. Those who were heavily indebted might sell themselves as slaves; however, King Rama V abolished serfdom and slavery in 1901 and 1905 respectively.
From the early twentieth century to the end of World War II, Siam's economy gradually became globalized. Major entrepreneurs were ethnic Chinese who became Siamese nationals. Exports of agricultural products (especially rice) were very important and Thailand has been among the top rice exporters in the world. The Siamese economy suffered greatly from the Great Depression, a cause of the Siamese revolution of 1932
Thailand is a newly industrialized country. Its economy is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of its gross domestic product (GDP). In 2012, according to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, Thailand had a GDP of THB11.375 trillion (US$366 billion). The Thai economy grew by 6.5 percent, with a headline inflation rate of 3.02 percent and an account surplus of 0.7 percent of the country's GDP. In 2013, the Thai economy is expected to grow in the range of 3.8-4.3 percent. During the first half of 2013 (Q1-Q2/2013), the Thai economy grew by 4.1 percent (YoY). After seasonally adjusted, however, the Thai GDP contracted by 1.7 percent and 0.3 percent in the first and the second quarters of 2013, respectively. Owing the contraction in two consecutive quarters, technically speaking, the Thai economy is now in recession.
The industrial and service sectors are the main sectors in the Thai gross domestic product, with the former accounting for 39.2 percent of GDP. Thailand's agricultural sector produces 8.4 percent of the GDP – lower than the trade and logistics and communication sectors, which account for 13.4 percent and 9.8 percent of GDP respectively. The construction and mining sector adds 4.3 percent to the country’s gross domestic product. Other service sectors (including the financial, education and hotel and restaurant sectors) account for 24.9 percent of the country's GDP. Telecommunications and trade in services are emerging as centers of industrial expansion and economic competitiveness.
Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia; however, its per-capita GDP in 2012 was relatively low ($5,390). In Southeast Asia Thailand ranks in the middle of per-capita GDP, after Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. On 19 July 2013 Thailand held $171.2 billion in international reserves, the second-largest in Southeast Asia (after Singapore). Thailand also ranks second in Southeast Asia in external-trade volume, after Singapore.
The nation is recognized by the World Bank as “one of the great development success stories” in social and development indicators. Despite a low per-capita gross national income (GNI) of $5,210 and ranking 103rd in the Human Development Index (HDI) the percentage of people below the national poverty line decreased from 65.26 percent in 1988 to 13.15 percent in 2011, according to the NESDB's new poverty baseline. As of the first quarter of 2013 Thailand's unemployment rate is 0.7 percent, the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the world (after Cambodia, Monaco and Qatar). The average headline inflation rate of the first half of 2013 stands at 2.70 (YoY), with a policy interest rate of 2.50 percent.
|Year||GDP at constant prices (THB trillions)||GDP at constant prices growth rate (percent change)||GDP at current prices (USD billions)||Export volume of goods and services (percent change)||Current account balance (percent of GDP)|