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  • Last updated September 2020

    Over the last four decades, Thailand has made remarkable progress in social and economic development, moving from a low-income to an upper-income country in less than a generation. As such, Thailand has been a widely cited development success story, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction. While Thailand has been successful in stemming the tide of COVID-19 (coronavirus) infections over the last few months, the economic impact has been severe and has led already to widespread job losses, affecting middle-class households and the poor alike and threatening hard-won gains in poverty reduction

    Economic growth in Thailand is expected to contract in 2020 , which is among the sharpest projected declines in the East Asia and Pacific region, due to a decline in external demand affecting trade and tourism, supply chain disruptions and weakening domestic consumption. The outbreak will likely lead to severe job losses, particularly in tourism, due to transmission control and social distancing measures. The impact on household welfare is also likely to be severe. The number of economically insecure, i.e., those living below $5.5 per day, is projected to double from 4.7 million in Q1 2020 to an estimated 9.7 million in Q2 2020, before recovering slightly to 7.8 million in Q3 2020. The government has quickly responded with a fiscal package (6% of GDP), unprecedented in terms of size and range of instruments, aimed at supporting vulnerable households and firms. The World Bank stands ready to support the government’s COVID-19 recovery program with the full breadth of our instruments.

    In recent years, economic growth slowed from 4.2% in 2018 to 2.4% in 2019. The key drivers of slowing growth were weaker demand for exports reflecting the impact of US-China trade tensions, slowing public investments, and a drought, impacting agricultural production. Key development challenges also pose a risk to Thailand’s future growth if it wants to attain high-income status by 2037. These include weakness in education outcomes and skills matching, which risk future productivity and chances of the younger generation, and increasing spatial inequality, with remote areas falling behind in economic and welfare indicators.

    Poverty declined substantially over the last 30 years from 65.2% in 1988 to 9.85% in 2018 (based on official national estimates). However, the growth of household incomes and consumption growth both have stalled nationwide in recent years. This resulted in a reversal in the progress of poverty reduction in Thailand with the number of people living in poverty rising.  Between 2015 and 2018, the poverty rate in Thailand increased from 7.2% to 9.8%, and the absolute number of people living in poverty rose from 4.85 million to more than 6.7 million. The increase in poverty in 2018 was widespread - occurring in all regions and in 61 out of 77 provinces. In the Central and Northeast, the number of the poor increased by over half a million in each region during the same period. The conflict-affected South became the region with the highest poverty rate for the first time in 2017.

    Inequality – as measured by the Gini coefficient – increased between 2015 and 2017. During this period, average household consumption per capita grew, but the household consumption of the bottom 40% of the population shrank.

    According to the World Bank Human Capital Index, which measures the productivity level for the next generation of workers relative to their full potential if all education and health outcomes were maximized, uneven education quality is a big challenge for Thailand. A Thai child born today can expect to obtain 12.4 years of schooling before the age of 18. However, once adjusted for quality of learning, that only amounts to 8.6 years of schooling, indicating a gap of 3.8 years.

    Thailand’s adult survival rate between ages 15-60 is lower than over half of the countries where such data is available. Over the past 15 years, Thailand’s prevalence of diabetes and hypertension have tripled and quadrupled, respectively, and combined with high rates of road injuries, has negatively affected adult survival rate. Only 85% of 15-year-olds are expected to live past age 60.

  • Last updated September 2020

    The year 2020 marks the start of the implementation of the new Thailand – World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework (CPF) FY19-FY22. In 2019, the World Bank and the Kingdom of Thailand celebrated the 70th anniversary of their partnership. Since Thailand became the 47th member of the World Bank on May 3, 1949, the Kingdom of Thailand and the World Bank Group have built a strong and productive partnership which has evolved from one focused on traditional lending and advice into an innovative knowledge-based partnership that reflects Thailand’s dynamic middle-income status. The CPF supports Thailand’s 20 Year National Strategy (2017-2036) that focuses on key economic and social reforms to end poverty and boost shared prosperity.

    The overarching goal of the CPF is to support Thailand’s transition to an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy. It has six objectives:

    • Improving the business environment through promotion of competition and innovation
    • Strengthening fiscal and economic institutions
    • Enhancing the quality of infrastructure investments
    • Addressing climate change and water resources management
    • Promoting quality education
    • Supporting inclusion of vulnerable groups, particularly in the fragile, conflicted areas of Southern Thailand

    The current World Bank portfolio in Thailand consists of Trust Funds and Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA). Currently, there are no loans in the portfolio. As of September 2020, active trust funds amounted to US$4.95 million with activities supporting the environment sector and peacebuilding in Southern Thailand. Eleven active ASAs including three Reimbursable Advisory Service (RAS) engagement cover macroeconomic analysis, marine plastics, education, social protection, poverty assessment and inclusion.

    Regionally, the World Bank is supporting Thailand in several priority areas including its continued leadership in the ASEAN marine plastic reduction agenda, and on regional connectivity in the Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar Vietnam and Thailand (CLMVT) region. On the former, the World Bank is helping to prepare an ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Marine Debris, under the leadership of Thailand and the ASEAN Secretariat.

    The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the World Bank Group institution that provides financing to the private sector – is guided by its 3.0 strategy framework. Key focus areas for IFC engagement include (i) infrastructure, with particular focus on leveraging public-private partnerships; (ii) innovation to accelerate access and affordability of reliable broadband services and insurance products; (iii) green growth which places a premium on technology and increased climate finance to help Thailand produce a more resilient growth model; (iv) sustainable cross-border development; and (v) strengthening the enabling business environment so that it helps leverage greater commercial financing which maximizes public resources.

  • Last updated September 2020

    The World Bank partners with Thailand in meeting challenges that affect people’s daily lives through grant funding delivered in collaboration with local organizations, international bodies, think tanks and academic institutions.

    World Bank grant-funded projects have supported peacebuilding efforts in Thailand’s south, in which conflict has claimed 6,000 lives since 2004. Implemented in 27 communities, the project in the three southern provinces of Pattani, Narathiwas and Yala helped demonstrate the value of community development and capacity-building to foster understanding and improve the capacity of civil society to effectively engage with the state.

    Another grant-funded project aims to assist the Thai industry to reduce the use of harmful ozone depleting global warming gases. The HCFC phase-out project has enabled more than 80 small and medium size foam manufacturers to change their production technology to non-ozone depleting and low global warming impact alternatives. In 2020, Thailand signed a $5 million grant agreement in support of reducing the import and use ozone-depleting chemicals by 2023.

    Thailand has also joined the World Bank Group’s Partnership for Market Readiness, a global climate change alliance of more than 30 nations, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Thailand also received a grant of $3.6 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to manage and protect its forests.

    Under the Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) Agreement, the World Bank supported the Office of Insurance Commission’s self-assessment of current insurance regulatory and supervisory practices and provided advice on consistency with international standards. This helped foster an environment for the insurance industry to efficiently expand and to better protect the poor against risks and loss. Other completed RAS work includes improving Thailand’s railway sector, providing advice on Thailand’s doing business reforms, and enhancing the education sector’s public expenditure.

    The ASEAN High-Level Meeting on Human Capital Development was organized by the National Economic and Social Development Council, World Bank and UNICEF on September 9, 2019 bringing together high-level representatives from ASEAN member states to promote human capital development and enhance cooperation between ASEAN and international organizations. In addition, the World Bank organized three ASEAN Regional Workshops to inform the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Marine Debris, with participation from the ASEAN member states.

    Biannually, the World Bank publishes the Thailand Economic Monitor (TEM), which reviews recent economic developments and provides an independent analysis of the near- and medium-term economic outlook. The TEM also provides advice on growth-promoting policies. 

    Other examples of analytical work include:

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LENDING

Thailand: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments



PHOTO GALLERY

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In Depth

70 Years in Thailand

Throughout seven decades, the World Bank and partners have worked towards improving social and economic development in Thailand.

Country Partnership Framework 2019-2022

New World Bank Group partnership framework will support Thailand's transformation towards an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy.

Sustainable Ozone Protection and Climate Change Mitigation

The World Bank has partnered with Thailand’s government and private sector since 1994 to help industries reduce the use of ozone depleting substances.

Invest in ASEAN Human Capital Development

A child born in ASEAN today will achieve only 59% of their full productivity potential.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Bangkok
30th Floor, Siam Tower, 989 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +662-686-8300
Fax: +662-686-8301
thailand@worldbank.org
Washington DC
1818 H Street, NW, Washington DC 20433
Tel: +1-202-473-4709
eastasiapacific@worldbank.org