The Thailand freight and logistics market is expected to witness a CAGR of 6% during the forecasted period.
Thailand's logistics performance significantly improved in 2018, owing to the massive investment in transport infrastructure and relevant legal reforms. According to the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index 2018, Thailand rose to the 32nd place in 2018 from 45th in 2016. Thailand's ranking was second only to Singapore in ASEAN, overtaking Malaysia, and was seventh in Asia. Thailand has extensively invested in transport infrastructure under the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan, which aims to cut the country's logistics costs to 12% of GDP by 2021 from 14% in 2016 when the 11th Plan (2012-16) ended. The 12th Plan (2017-2021) will call not only for transport infrastructure development in major cities and border towns but also improved connectivity with neighboring countries.
Thailand’s robust growth rate of a few years ago has since slowed down. Its GDP growth has trailed its regional neighbors in the recent years, hitting a 3-4% stride since 2015, while Vietnam is growing at close to 7%; the government has embarked on programs in an effort to turn this scenario around. Thailand 4.0 envisions a new economic model for the country, in order to bring it to the forefront of the global digital economy.
Key Market Trends
Growing E-commerce and Increasing Urbanization Propels Demand for Logistics Services
As incomes in the ASEAN countries steadily rise, demand for consumer goods is created, with an evolved e-commerce ecosystem and increased spending of people in those countries. The second-largest economy of ASEAN, Thailand has one of the region’s highest number of internet users. There are around 57 million internet users in the country that are well versed in the use of digital technologies, mobile, and e-commerce. The expanding internet user base has made Thailand an ideal growth environment for e-commerce businesses.
The continued expansion of the e-commerce business has created a demand for logistics space and has brought significant changes in the supply chain and logistics operations in Thailand. Many courier companies have launched their cost-effective and high-quality logistics services in the country and brought domestic end-to-end delivery to the market. Many other companies have established central warehouses, along with smaller drop-off and pickup points across the nation, in order to sustain the rise in demand. For small and medium enterprises (SME), this means greater convenience and a quicker process to deliver to their consumers, at a much lesser cost. Central Group, Aden, DHL Express Thailand, Kerry Express, Lazada, Pomelo, and Shopee, are some of the major e-commerce and logistics companies in the country. Additionally, the air freight handled at Thai airports is significantly increasing, owing to the on-going demand created by e-commerce.
Thailand’s Emerging Automotive Industry Provides Opportunities for Contract Logistics
Thailand offers excellent investment potential as a leading automotive production base in the ASEAN region, a fast-developing region for the automotive manufacturing industry. Over 50 years, the country has developed from an assembler of auto parts and components into a top automotive manufacturing and export hub. With shipments bound for around 100 countries, Thailand is the 13th-largest automotive parts exporter and the sixth-largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world, and the largest in the ASEAN region. By 2020, Thailand aims to manufacture over 3,500,000 units of vehicles to become one of the top nations in the global automotive market.
The country has a presence of virtually all of the world’s leading automakers, assemblers, and component manufacturers. Companies, such as Toyota, Isuzu, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and BMW, together account for a lion’s share of the approximately two million vehicles produced in the country each year. The presence of multiple companies denotes the increasing opportunity for the management of their supply chains, and hence, logistics service providers are benefiting from the country’s prosperous automotive industry. Automotive logistics has rapidly become one of the most important sectors in Thailand and is still continuing to grow to this day. Recognizing the importance, ANJI-NYK logistics (Thailand), a leading automotive logistics provider, offers automobile manufacturers in Thailand with end-to-end automotive logistics, which focuses on delivering finished vehicles and automotive spare parts.
The logistics market landscape of Thailand is fragmented in nature, with a mix of global and local players. According to industry sources, DHL holds a significant position in the Thai logistics market, with a foothold in air and sea freight and their expertise in 3PL services. Other global players, such as CEVA, DB Schenker, Nippon Express, Expeditors, Yusen, and FedEx, have a significant presence in the market in specific segments. Additionally, Japanese logistics companies are planning to expand their services in the market, due to the rising trade and industrial activities. The Thai manufacturing industry is dominated by global players and these global players prefer global counterparts for their logistics operations. For instance, Japanese and Korean manufacturers in Thailand bring their domestic logistics partners or prefer to tie up with service providers of the same origin.
With the evolution of Asian Economic Community (AEC), Thailand's position as a transportation hub for the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) has been strengthened. This initiative has increased the country's opportunities for cross-border trades and import-export shipments. The most dominant mode of transportation is road transportation. Fierce competition is expected to occur, as professional multinational logistics companies owned by foreigners are expected to use their competitive advantage to gain significant market shares and compete with local logistics providers. To withstand the competition, domestic logistics firms have to identify the risks for their services among the neighboring countries and find avenues to manage the risks.
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