Thailand lags behind Indonesia, Malaysia & Philippines in positive business sentiment; Why?

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Thailand’s top CEO is less positive about Thailand than Top CEO in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. But why?

In poll after poll, in research after research, of Thai businessmen and economist, for years now, they have said that, quote: “Thai politics is the greatest risk to Thailand.”

  • While Thailand’s top CEO confidence lags, overall, the accounting firm, Deloit, says:

Business Confidence in Thailand increased to 60.90 in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 58.30 in the third quarter of 2012. Business Confidence in Thailand is reported by the Bureau of Trade and Economic Indices. Historically, from 1995 until 2012, Thailand Business Confidence averaged 56.24 reaching an all time high of 79.40 in March of 2004 and a record low of 26 in March of 1998.

In Thailand, the Business Expectation Index measures the level of optimism that people who run companies have about the performance of the economy and how they feel about their organizations’ prospects. Index higher than 50, shows that the majority of businessmen expect economic condition to be good in the next quarter and next year. The survey is based on the sample of around 1800 Thai businessman. 

  • Indeed, a recent Standard and Poor credit rating of Thailand, also cited “Political Risk” as a concern. Unfortunately, for the Thai themselves and for global investors, Thai politics, indeed, is a mess.

“Dysfunctional Politics” said a recent well-known Thai specialist, penned at the widely read and followed, Seeking Alpha investment website, article.

  • Many have noted, in fact, the stark differences, in the political climate between Thailand and Myanmar. As correctly, most observer have said, Myanmar politics is becoming more Democratic and Thailand, have only “Stabilized.” That stability, is off course, between the pro Democracy movement in Thailand against an anti democracy establishment, being mostly the elites of Bangkok.

Yet for the rest of ASEAN, there is little problem with “Dysfunctional Politics.” The worse, that investors have said about countries such as Philippines, is that “Reform is slow” and for Indonesia, it is “Complex and changing regulations.”

Overall, Singapore, off course, ranks very high globally as a place that offers “Ease of Doing Business.” Understandably, Malaysia and surprisingly, Thailand, also ranked high as places for ease of doing business.

  • The following is from Straits Times:

Business sentiment up at Asia’s top firms

Dennis Chan

The Straits Times

Publication Date : 21-12-2012

Business sentiment at Asia’s top companies rose slightly in the fourth quarter, reversing two straight quarters of decline, according to the latest Thomson Reuters/Insead Asia Business Sentiment survey.

The poll, conducted between December 3 and 14, showed that of the 96 companies that responded, a third reported a positive outlook for the next six months.

This represents a small increase from the 32.99 per cent of positive responses in the third quarter.

The number of negative responses declined from 9.28 per cent to 7.29 per cent while neutral responses rose to 59.38 per cent from 57.73 per cent.

The overall index reading was 63, up slightly from the 62 reading in the third quarter and also higher than the 57 index reading in the fourth quarter of last year.

Global economic uncertainty continued to rank as the chief business risk across all sectors and across all countries as it has for the past 11/2 years, the survey showed.

Rising costs was the second greatest business risk followed by “other” risks such as regulatory uncertainty, political instability and foreign exchange volatility.

Sentiment among Chinese companies rebounded in the fourth quarter from an all-time low in the previous quarter.

Two companies were positive, five were neutral while none reported a negative sentiment. Three of seven respondents in China said employment levels were higher, a significant improvement compared to only one respondent in the previous quarter.

Taiwanese companies were the most negative in Asia with an index reading of 33 compared to 40 in the third quarter.

The airline and building sectors were the most negative, with index readings of 0 and 25 respectively.

India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were tied for the most positive responses, with readings of 100 each, followed by Thailand with 75.

The food sector was the most positive among industries, with a reading of 77 compared to 73 in the previous quarter, followed by the drug sector with a reading of 72, although that was a decline from 80 previously.

The finance sector was overwhelmingly neutral with a reading of 50; 14 of the 18 respondents reported a neutral reading, two reported a negative reading and the other two had a positive reading.

The companies that participated in the survey included Asahi Breweries, Ayala Land, Canon, Charoen Pokphand Foods, Honda Motor, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Sembcorp Marine.

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