Thailand aiming for global top 20 in ease of doing business

Having accomplished a major leap to 26th place in the World Bank’s global rankings this year for Ease of Doing Business, one of Thailand’s top economic advisors said last week the Kingdom is aiming to crack the top 20 when the Bank conducts its assessment for next year’s standings.

Kobask Pootrakool, the Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and a key economic advisor within the government, said that Thailand has a chance to be ranked within the top 20 after the being assessed. He said the government had made further improvements in speeding up processes and approvals, while also acknowledging there were still areas where the country needed to do even more to serve the business community and investors.

A World Bank team will visit Thailand in the middle of this year to examine and review the measures taken by the government before the next rankings are released in October. Just two years ago, the World Bank had placed Thailand at number 48 in the world in its annual ease of doing business standings.

The current ranking of 26th was a leap of 22 places in just one year, demonstrating that Thailand has the capacity to make significant improvements in its investment and bureaucratic regimes based on sound advice from international institutions such as the World Bank as well as its own corps of talented advisor and experts.

The rise in rank also represents the advantages of investing in Thailand relative to competitors in the region, some of which are emerging economies that, while having higher growth rates at the present time, lack many of the services, experience and expertise available in the Kingdom.

Kobsak said he is optimistic that Thailand could obtain an even higher ranking because of several recent changes the government has implemented, including abolishing a requirement to obtain a company seal and eliminating the need for approval of a firm’s employment regulations from the Labor Department.

In addition, the government also put in place an automatic risk-based system for selecting companies for a tax audit; reduced the property transfer tax rate; adopted legislation to broaden the scope of assets that can be used as collateral; and implemented geographic information systems to access electricity.

The legislature is also undertaking a reform of its laws governing the digital economy, and the government has been adopting digital platforms for several business processes, such as registrations. Those factors could also favor a possible improvement in ranking, government officials said.