U.S. News: Thailand best country for starting a business

Thailand pulled off an upset win against the world’s economic giants this week when it topped the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings for Best Countries to Start a Business, while also finishing eighth in the magazine’s standings for Best Countries to Invest In.

Finishing first was a proud achievement for the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Thai business community which have worked hand-in-hand to cut red tape, slash regulations and minimize bureaucracy in order to simplify and speed up the time needed to get a business up and running. The ranking by U.S. News & World Report reinforces the findings of the World Bank, which raised Thailand 22 places last year in its global Ease of Doing Business standings.

Overall, Thailand came in at number 27 for the Best Countries Overall Ranking in the newsmagazine’s 2018 Best Countries Report released on January 23. “The Best Countries project is designed to help citizens, business leaders and policymakers better understand how their nations are perceived on a world scale,” the magazine said in a press release.

“The data behind the rankings can help determine the current and future possibilities of economic, political and cultural success in a nation and can be used as a strategic decision-making tool for citizens, business leaders and governments to better evaluate their countries,’’ U.S. News said.

The publication collaborates with Y&R’s BAV Group and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to gather and analyze global perception data on 80 countries covering 65 attributes. The magazine surveyed 21,117 individuals in 36 countries in the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and Africa. Of the total respondents, 12,114 were described as informed elites and 6,016 as business decision-makers.

In other business categories, Thailand came in sixth in Countries with Up and Coming Economies, and 15th in Most Business Friendly Countries and 20th in Best Countries to Start a Career.

It wasn’t all economics, however. Thailand also did well in several non-business categories. The Kingdom finished fifth in Best Countries to Study Abroad, fourth in Best Countries to Visit, eighth in Countries with the Richest Traditions, ninth in Best Countries to Travel Alone, and 19th in Countries with the Most Cultural Influence.

“Thailand is one of the world’s most visited countries, though tourism accounts for just 7 percent of gross domestic product,” the magazine said. “Buddha figures are ever-present in the ‘land of smiles,’ where bustling, modern cities are juxtaposed with ancient ruins, glistening beaches and gilded temples. The nation is home to the acclaimed Thai massage and cuisine that is known to balance sweet, sour, salty, bitter and spicy flavors.”

The overall ranking reflects how dynamic and friendly of the economic environment Thailand has to offer and how rich and culturally significant stands the country in 2018.  The findings support the reforms initiated over the past three years by the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, though faced with increasing competition from countries in the region and beyond, the government has striven to increase ease of doing business to maintain Thailand’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), a three-province region east of Bangkok, is the showcase zone that attracts over $30 billion worth of investments in infrastructure projects for the Eastern Economic Corridor advanced development zone.  The government announced a goal of attracting $22.4 billion more in new investments this year through further cutting of red tape for those who want to partner in Thailand’s economic transformation.  Last year, the Board of Investment received 388 applications for investments in the EEC worth $9.28 billion. Japan and Singapore were the top two investors in the area, with China and the United States third and fourth.

The EEC supported by investment and infrastructure is the national showcase in support of Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy designed to lift Thailand to a more advanced level of development in terms of its economy and society.