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Multi-dimensional Review of Thailand (Volume 1)

Initial Assessment

image of Multi-dimensional Review of Thailand (Volume 1)

Thailand has made impressive progress over the past several decades, both in economic and social terms. Sustained strong growth and a rapidly modernising economy have turned Thailand into an upper middle-income country with a strong urban centre. Economic success has brought impressive social advancement. Poverty has plummeted, while education and health services have considerably expanded and improved. These achievements have brought Thailand to a new stage and a new set of challenges.

Rising prosperity has not been shared equally across the country and economic transformation needs a boost. The share of those in precarious employment still exceeds half of the working population. The creation of new activities replacing low-productivity ones has slowed while rural migrants and urban poor lack the skills required for modern urban jobs. While Bangkok’s success as a metropolis has been key to Thailand’s transformation, thriving secondary cities are needed that can develop new sources of growth.

Experience shows that development is not about getting everything right, but about getting right what matters most. The Initial Assessment of this Multi-Dimensional Review endeavors to identify the challenges and key constraints that must be overcome for Thailand to succeed. It offers recommendations related to informality, productivity and the management of natural resources, particularly water. The next volumes will provide further suggestions for action to address these challenges.

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Prosperity: Boosting productivity

OECD Development Centre

The Prosperity pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for an integrated approach based on boosting productivity through diversification, upgrading technology and innovation, and increasing employment and entrepreneurship. Thailand needs to address all these challenges to achieve high-income country status by 2036. Over the past decade, limited structural reform and capital investment have held back productivity growth and improvements in well-being, and Thailand has lost ground vis-à-vis regional comparators. More recently, however, economic growth has started to regain momentum helped by a pick-up in global trade, which has supported exports, and by a substantial public infrastructure investment programme. Moving forward, Thailand will need to boost productive capacity in the face of intensified competition with regional peers and rapid demographic ageing. In addition, productivity gains will be increasingly necessary to drive growth. Key areas of focus include improving human resource development, encouraging technology diffusion via cluster development, promoting innovation and digitalisation, improving the SME policy framework and expanding regional integration, as emphasised in the government’s 12th Plan and Thailand 4.0.

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