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Rice and beaches: Thailand plots its Asian future

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Few people doubt that the action, at least in economic terms, is going to be in asia in the next few years. But if you’re a relatively developed economy within Asia, how do you take advantage of that?

It’s a question that has obviously been exercising Korn Chatikavanij, Thailand’s finance minister. Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok on Wednesday night, Korn said he sees two main areas of opportunity for the country: tourism and food production.

Both are already big earners – Thailand’s 14m tourists account for some 7.5 per cent of GDP — but Korn is talking about taking it to a whole new level.

“We should be thinking in terms of 40, 50, 60m people a year,” he said.

He has similarly big plans for agriculture, which still employs 40 per cent of the workforce. Thailand is already the world’s largest rice exporter but “the opportunity for Thailand to be the main food supplier to countries like China, Korea and India is immense” he said.

Financial Times

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