Country study: Thailand
Thailand began its transformation into a newly industrializing economy (NIE) with the first National Economic Development Plan (NEDP) in 1961. The focus of the NEDP was to improve infrastructure and undertake a structural transformation of the economy. The process of transformation included an agricultural-led export policy, import substitution, state-owned enterprises and export-oriented industrialization. Towards the 1980s, Thailand, for the first time achieved double digit economic growth and continued to chalk an average growth of 8.6 percent per annum until the first half of the 1990s. Thailand then began to transform itself from a resource-based to a capital and knowledge-based economy.1 Foreign investments were encouraged as a means to propel economic growth and provide employment opportunities. However, employment created by new foreign investments also created a demand for workers with skills that were lacking in Thailand. To solve the shortage of special skills, the government could develop the skills locally but this would take time, so they decided to temporarily import professionals and specialists and allow the entry of permanent immigrants with these special skills. The temporary entry of foreign professionals or specialists was the most appropriate alternative. Therefore, for operations promoted by the Board of Investment (BOI) from 1990 to 2002, some 1175 to 2642 foreign professionals with special skills were recruited. One of the sources of the growing numbers of temporary foreign professionals is India. However, Thailand also has thousands of settled Indians in its community. The aim of this chapter is to examine the social and economic impact of Indian expatriates in Thailand and their interaction with the local Indian community.