Thailand Says it Will Catch up with South Korea

    December 28, 2003 17:45

    Thailand, a country better known for its beaches than for high-tech wares, has declared that it will advance into the ranks of "First World" nations in 2004, to rival other Asian economic powers, such as South Korea and Taiwan. Calling itself the "Heart of Asia," as part of an image upgrade for the New Year, the country plans to attract 12 million tourists next year.

    Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said in a meeting of the Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party Friday that 2004 would be a "golden year" for Thailand to move up to the level of economically advanced countries in Asia. The Thai government has decided to lay the groundwork for a highly-efficient national administrative system and transform the nation into a knowledge-intensive society, Somkid said.

    Somkid quoted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as saying that Thailand would advance with “strengthened economic potential, stable politics and a peaceful society.”

    The Bangkok Post wrote that Thailand has clearly recovered from its economic slump and turned around its debts in the last few years. Mirroring the prime minister’s works, the paper reported that, “While the world is not very stable today, Thailand is adopting stable politics, a strengthened economy and peaceful society. Next year is going to be the golden year for Thailand to step forward as part of the First World like Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.”

    The Post said that Somkid's ambitious statement reflects Thailand's current economic situation. Thailand's gross domestic product rose from 4.9 trillion baht (W147 trillion) in 2000 to 5.9 trillion (W177 trillion) this year, while the market capitalization of the Stock Exchange of Thailand increased drastically over the same period, from 1.3 trillion (W39 trillion) to 4.6 trillion baht (W138 trillion). Foreign reserves have risen steadily and now exceed US$40 billion dollars, while foreign debts have dropped substantially, the Post reported.
    (Lee Gwang-hoi, santafe@chosun.com)
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