In June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published its latest World Economic Outlook following the lockdown of billions of people in response to COVID-19. It projected that global GDP will fall by 4.9% this year.
That figure may seem modest given the number of economies brought to their knees by the pandemic. But it eclipses the downturn witnessed during the global financial crisis of 2009, which, to which the World Bank attributed a ‘trifling’ -1.5% GDP reduction.
At times of economic uncertainty, growth-minded companies turn their gaze to the Asia Pacific region. Driven by the BRIC powerhouses of China and India, its story is one of constant growth. During the Global Financial Crisis, as the West floundered, APAC economic activity continued increasing at an annual rate of nearly 5%. Even the Asian Financial Crisis was unable to stop it in its tracks.
COVID Impact on APAC Growth Opens Door for Thailand to Shine
This pattern looks almost certain to repeat itself, with the IMF’s Outlook forecasting massive drops in economic growth this year for the US (-8.0%), Euro Area (-10.2%) and UK (-10.2%), compared to a much smaller drop of -2.0% across the ASEAN-5 (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines). The Southeast Asian bloc is expected to swiftly recover by next year and enjoy growth in 2021 of 6.2%, according to the IMF.
So now is the ideal time for you to take a closer look at adding coverage in markets like Thailand. Just consider the following points.
- APAC remains the best bet for American and European multinationals trying to grow their customer base at a time when established markets in the west are seeing single and even double-digit contractions, with the US and UK among the worst hit.
- Given that growth in China and India is slowing right down, it makes sense for companies looking at the APAC region to diversify investment into other markets
- Thailand is uniquely positioned to cater to international business for a number of reasons that I’ll outline below
- Due to the influx of business interest that we anticipate seeing in Thailand through 2020-1, and the global growth being witnessed in the contact center market, we are recommending that now is the time to add Thai toll-free numbers to your coverage so you can serve the growing contact center and conferencing traffic coming out of the country
Thailand: The Land of Smiles for International Businesses
Thailand has always worked hard to cater to foreign business interests. Even its moniker, The Land of Smiles, is an exercise in self-branding designed to foster a sense of welcoming and openness. The country is famous for its hospitality, with tourism one of its largest revenue generators. Today it’s also one of the world’s premier destinations for medical tourism.
The country, which is the fourth richest nation (GDP per capita) in Southeast Asia, is also a major manufacturer, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of GDP. Among the goods and services making up the US$245.3 billion it exports annually are cars, computers, electrical appliances, rise, textiles, fishery products, rubber and jewellery.
It is able to leverage its membership in the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) for tariff-free exports into many surrounding countries, making it one of Southeast Asia’s top hub economies. The AFTA opens international businesses operating in Thailand up to Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar – with the latter three developing economies heavily dependent on Thailand and gravitating around it both geographically and economically.
What I really want to stress is just how welcoming Thai industry is to international companies. For example, the country is APAC’s top automotive manufacturer and the majority of vehicles produced in Thailand are licensed by foreign producers. Of the eight major manufacturers operating in the country, five are Japanese, two are American and one is Indian, with manufacturers like Ford, Toyota and Tata leading the way.
British and American goods in particular, are highly sought after in Thailand, and with such low local labour costs, it’s no surprise that big brands such as Tesco, The Body Shop and Marks and Spencer have all been won over by the incentives on offer to companies establishing a presence in Thailand.
Rising Business Demand for Thailand Toll-Free
Given the number of international businesses setting up shop in Thailand, it’s no surprise that the country is a major APAC hub for contact centers.
Thailand’s major advantage compared to some of its more regulated neighbours is that it supports international toll-free service (ITFS). So calls into Thai toll-free numbers can be terminated to international destinations.
This is ideal for contact center and conferencing use cases. In effect it provides free international call forwarding, enabling international businesses to effectively leverage cost-effective staff resourcing and local customer bases from beyond Thai borders.
Thailand Toll-Free Phone Numbers from Voxbone
Voxbone’s toll-free phone numbers in Thailand (prefix 1800) allow businesses to provide a free call route to their end users anywhere in the country, including major economic hubs such as Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Udon Thani and Korat. And they perfectly complement our local geographic numbers in the country.
There are no restrictions on these ITFS numbers for resellers, no setup fees and no connection charges.
With Voxbone’s toll-free phone numbers, corporations can establish local presence in Thailand for the purposes of business development, brand growth and international business continuity. Our customisable pricing is also designed to suit any use case and traffic growth path.
Voxbone provides local toll-free numbers in more than 50 major markets around the world, including eight countries in the APAC region. We provide local coverage across all ASEAN-5 markets (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines).
Aside from our toll-free coverage in Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, we’re currently in the process of bringing toll-free numbers to Singapore and Hong Kong – the two biggest business gateways into the APAC region for western businesses.
Because we have extensive local infrastructure in the APAC region (including two core network nodes – one in Hong Kong and one in Australia), we’re able to offer a much higher-quality service than other international DID providers, minimizing latency and jitter and maximizing positive CX.