I am currently writing academic papers on both countries and this sort of post gives one a flavour of what is happening at ground level. These are therefore posted for my own reference but I think they should of interest to all those interested in the economics of China.
Thailand vs. China [Silk Road International Blog]
1. Were here in Thailand for this client because of the tax and export duty savings over China in their specific product line. The cost differences are substantial and the legal requirements for export are not nearly as burdensome here.
2. Thailand’s infrastructure is at least as good as China’s East Coast’s—ports, airports, toll-ways. Nothing new, I know, but this is one of the major drawbacks of working far inland in China or even close to large cities in Vietnam or Cambodia. The big plus in Thailand is that there are no inter-provincial tariffs or restrictions on the flow of goods like there is in China.
3. Even with the recent wage increases labor is still more expensive in Thailand than in China. I’m seeing cost differences of about $50 to $75 a month between factory workers in China vs. Thailand.
4. The environment is much more “international” in Bangkok than it is in Shenzhen—more so than even Hong Kong, I’d say. Sure there isn’t as much English on signs but the exposure to “the west” is certainly as much or more—To me, Bangkok seems to be becoming more western and Hong Kong more Chinese. There are certainly more foreigners (yes, even in the non touristy sections of town).
5. The advertising is much more sophisticated in Thailand than China where it’s still a relatively immature industry. I was consciously amazed at the higher quality of both radio and out-door media advertising.
6. Nationalism is alive and well in both countries but Thailand’s flavor is much less strident. China seems to be a bit more angry, with something to prove, while Thailand is much more comfortable with it’s unique place in the world.
7. As I work with people in the jewelry industry here I’m constantly being told the same thing when I tell people I live in China, “You know, labor is more expensive here, but you get better quality work too.” Almost to a person, this was the response I heard—more than 10 times in just one day.
8. Thailand has a very well developed export base for automobiles, machinery and electronics, according to the Bangkok Post today. While China does have some of this too, pick-up trucks and hard-drives are especially well developed sub industries in Thailand.
9. Staffing in China is difficult in both retaining top-level local employees as well as low-end factory labor. Thailand has similar tight market in top-level employees. Service levels are much higher in Thailand as is education in general. Professional standards seem, to me, to be higher in Thailand as well.
10. The traffic in both Thailand and China is horrible—but each has it’s own perils. In China you are literally taking your life in your hands when you get into a car—the roads are some of the most deadly in the world. It’s scary, and for good reason. Thailand is completely different—you’re never going fast enough to be in a dangerous situation! The traffic, in Bangkok, is so bad at almost all times of each and every day that estimates are it lowers annual GDP by multiple points!
11. Banking (I can’t believe I’m going to say this); hands down China has better banks—in terms of service and accessibility. In China if you need a bank, you can get one open from 8AM to 5PM 7 days a week. Thailand is 9AM to 3:30PM five days a week and off every holiday known to man.