Thailand

Market overview

Thailand has begun to ease restrictions on movement and gatherings, allowing restaurants, malls, hair salons, bars, pubs and open-air markets to re-open, provided that social distancing is maintained and subject to proprietors carrying out temperature checks.

Thailand's rate of new infections enabled the Thai government to loosen restrictions while tightening movement tracking requirements. Shoppers must use the 'Thai Chana' app on their mobile phones to check-in and check-out of shops. The app has been created to collect visitor records in shops and also provide details such as opening hours and visitor limits among others. Shops must also register with Thai Chana.

There is keen interest in a push for Thailand to successfully develop a COVID-19 vaccine for medical tourism purposes, as well as to help in domestic healthcare. Manpower and resources have been dedicated to the effort, and Thai trials of an experimental vaccine using monkeys started last month. The Government is hopeful it will have a cost-effective vaccine ready for next year.

For more information on doing business in Thailand, visit myNZTE - our free online portal for curated, in-depth information and guidance. 

Video insights

Export support
Video
10:31
Last updated: 18 May 2020
COVID-19 Market Realities: Thailand overview, 7 May

NZTE Beachhead Advisor, Paul Dibbayawan, and NZTE BDM, Jane Tantakhom, spoke with NZTE Trade Commissioner Ryan Freer about the situation in Thailand.

Watch now

Economy and trade

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) has downgraded its full year economic outlook forecast to show a record 8.1% decline in GDP growth. For the export sector, the BOT forecasts a 10.3% decline in growth.

The Thai economy is forecast to shrink by 4.8% by Asian Development Bank (ADB), 5.6% by Siam Commercial Bank's Economic Intelligence Center (EIC) and 5% by Standard Chartered Bank (Thai), heading for its deepest contraction since the financial meltdown of 1998. The IMF forecasts Thailand's GDP to contract by 6.7% in 2020.

The Federation of Thai Industry believes Thailand's exports will contract between 5% and 10% in 2020 and that the rate of inflation will drop to –1.5%. GDP growth will reduce but how much so will depend on the value and effectiveness of the Government's support package.

Thailand's tourism-reliant economy is expected to feel severe economic impacts from the drop in travel from Europe and China, and the lasting effects of the drop in world travel overall. Tourism accounts for 15.5% of total employment in Thailand, and about 20% of Thailand's GDP, so Thailand is particularly reliant on a recovery in China and inbound Chinese tourists. Roughly 16 million of Thailand's 40 million tourists (40%) are from China.

The country's six largest commercial banks have passed on cost savings after the Bank of Thailand lowered its required contribution to the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF), trimming prime lending rates by 40 basis points to soften the coronavirus impact on debtors.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce estimates seven million jobs have been lost in Thailand already due to impacts of COVID-19 and the figure will hit ten million if restrictions drag on to the end of 2020. Thailand has a workforce of approximately 38 million.

Supply chain, logistics & freight

Exports may continue but may face challenges with limited freight schedules and delays at Thai customs control.

Thai ports for ocean cargo are operating as normal, while air freight capacity has decreased dramatically due to international flight cancellations from many airlines.

Thai Airways has direct passenger flights scheduled between Auckland and Bangkok for the remainder of the year.

Singapore Airlines presents an option for New Zealand products to be air freighted to Thailand, via Singapore. Freight costs will be more expensive than usual.

Imports may incur delays and costs may be significantly above the standard rate.

Government support

On 31 May, the Thai parliament approved a near US$60 billion stimulus package, from which about US$17.3 billion will be given as aid to farmers and informal workers such as street vendors and those employed in massage parlours and bars who have seen their work dry up. It is the biggest-ever cash injection to the Thai economy

The Thai Cabinet previously approved a third package of economic stimulus valued at THB 1.9 trillion (NZ$95 billion) on 7 April.

Other support policies include extending the deadline for income tax payments, access to training courses for additional skills to provide extra income, and income tax exemptions for those whose work is considered high-risk for COVID-19 infection.

On 17 June the Government approved a domestic tourism package worth THB 22.4 billion (NZ$1.1 billion). The project is expected to stimulate two million domestic trips from 1 July to 31 October, 2020 and help generate income for accommodation establishments, airlines, tour companies, restaurants and related businesses.

In early July, Thailand’s Cabinet approved a budget of up to THB 100 billion baht for projects to strengthen the economy and boost consumption and tourism.

Travel

Thai Airways has passenger flights scheduled between Auckland and Bangkok until the end of 2020. See Thai Airways directly for details. 

While regular tourism visas are not available to foreigners at present, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is accepting applications for long term tourist visas to those willing to undergo 14 day quarantine at a hospital or other state mandated facility at their own expense. 

Applicants must have proof of their long-stay plans such as paying for accommodation or evidence of ownership of condominiums, where they will stay after completing their quarantine, plus a Covid-19-free certificate and sufficient travel and health insurance.

Thailand travel advisory: Safetravel.govt.nz

Advice to exporters

We advise exporters to be flexible in their arrangements with Thai partners, and be willing to revise plans to best suit the new way consumers are interacting with brands in Thailand. Many Thai companies are facing difficult times, and exporters may be best to focus on their long-term relationships rather than short-term sales goals.

Most imported products from New Zealand are in niche and premium segments. Their core Thai consumer is in a higher income bracket that is more insulated from economic crisis and less price sensitive. New Zealand brands need to ensure they are on this consumer group's radar, and that consumers are aware of, recognise and understand their product benefits. As much as possible, consumers will seek to maintain their lifestyle, and if their offline experience is limited, they will look for online brand experiences.

For New Zealand companies that are yet to enter the Thai market, there is a potential opportunity to penetrate into Thailand if their products can substitute for goods from the US, Europe, China or Japan which are struggling to supply. An opportunity exists to introduce New Zealand products due to supply shortages from countries that are experiencing shutdowns.

The COVID-19 crisis is an opportune time to invest in consumer insights. It is dangerous to make assumptions on what could happen and how consumers may behave once the crisis ends. Instead, brands and companies should pay attention and invest in gaining consumer insight. Companies doing well now are those who can understand their customers and respond accordingly, making brands more relevant and useful to consumers.

Tradeshow and event information

Numerous international tradeshows and events are being postponed or cancelled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Make sure you proactively check with organisers for any tradeshow or event you're scheduled to attend – conditions and regulations are changing rapidly overseas, and events may be postponed or cancelled at short notice.

FAQ

Can I fly to Thailand?

Thailand lifted its ban on international flights on 1 July. However, availability is limited and many restrictions apply to the return of foreigners into the country according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand. Foreigners who are granted entry into Thailand must go through 14 days of mandatory quarantine at their own expense.

Can I still export to Thailand?

Exports may continue but may face challenges with limited freight schedules and delays at Thai Customs.

Can I still import from Thailand?

Imports may continue but may face challenges with limited freight schedules.

Airfreight remains limited. The lack of flights between Auckland and Bangkok will impact access for chilled products, fresh produce (including persimmon) and other fresh food cargo.

Singapore Airlines is still operating, however freight costs will be more expensive than usual.

Is freight allowed in at the border?

Yes, but delays may occur and costs may be significantly above the standard rate.


Sector insights

As is to be expected, numerous sectors have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Below you'll find information on any COVID-19 effects across important sectors and industries in Thailand.

Dairy

Thailand’s dairy manufacturers are operating as usual. Earlier during the lockdown, there was an oversupply of raw local milk, however, the situation is now back to normal.

During the first half of 2020, dairy imports from New Zealand to Thailand were down 6% year-on-year. However, the value of imported dairy goods from New Zealand increased 9% year-on-year to NZ$334 million. The main import item is whole milk powder with over 51,000 tonnes imported in the first half of 2020.

Additional resources

Below you can find information and contact details for other New Zealand government and international agencies regarding their response to COVID-19.

New Zealand Government agencies

Covid19.govt.nz
COVID-19 helpline for businesses
Business.govt.nz
New Zealand Customs
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
New Zealand Export Credit (NZEC)
MFAT Export Helpline
MFAT Safetravel
Callaghan Innovation
Immigration
Ministry of Health
WorkSafe New Zealand
myNZTE

Global agencies

World Health Organization (WHO)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Contact NZTE

We're available to talk to you about any issues your export business is facing due to COVID-19.

For existing NZTE customers, please contact your New Zealand-based Customer Manager.

If you're unsure who to contact or haven't worked with us before, you can call NZTE on 0800 555 888 or email below and one of our Customer Advisors will help you.