Thailand has the potential to develop more joint investments with Middle Eastern companies that are seeking business opportunities here, says Dubai-based consultancy firm Gulf Analytica.
"Thailand is an important country in Asean and can be a key investment destination as the government is promoting foreign investment, especially among the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC]," said David Gibson-Moore, president of Gulf Analytica.
The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Executives from the Middle East are interested in many industries, including medical tourism, healthcare, logistics, finance, hotels, petrochemicals, renewable energy, food processing and agriculture.
“Medical tourism is well-known because Thailand is a major tourist destination with a high potential to grow and people from the Middle East also come here for treatment at hospitals," said Mr Gibson-Moore.
The Thai government put medical and wellness tourism on a list of 12 targeted S-curve industries to be developed in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which covers parts of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces.
Authorities want to turn the EEC into a high-tech industrial hub.
The EEC is well-known among business people in the Middle East, and Thailand's EEC promotion policy can support joint investments between Thailand and the GCC, Mr Gibson-Moore said.
Thailand wants to see more Chinese tourists visit the country after Beijing reopened China early this year. The country can also draw more tourists from the GCC, said Mr Gibson-Moore.
In terms of Thailand's investment opportunities overseas, executives in the Middle East want Thai companies to invest in their region. Tourism and medical businesses in the Middle East have a high growth potential, driven by people's strong purchasing power, he said.
Thai entrepreneurs can also benefit from a growing youth population in the Gulf if they decide to invest there, said Mr Gibson-Moore.
Thai authorities are developing economic ties with the UAE. The Commerce Ministry earlier announced the start of free trade agreement negotiations between Thailand and the UAE.
The agreement aims to create new opportunities for trade, services and investment between Thailand and the UAE, aiming to grow bilateral trade by 10% in the first year of the pact’s implementation.
The Department of Trade Negotiations aims to conclude the agreement by the end of this year.