How the “land of smiles” uses its mantra to boost its economy

Artists lead the way.
Artists lead the way.
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“Stress free” and “business” don’t always go hand-in-hand. But those who have done business in Thailand realize there’s something unique about working in the region, quickly piecing together why it’s often referred to as the “Land of Smiles.” Given the country’s history of excellence in hospitality and tourism it’s no wonder that residents’ smiling spirits, encapsulated by the heartfelt mantra “May Pen Rai” (which literally translates to “all will be okay”), permeates the broader economy.

In the bustling gemstone and jewelry sector, for example, where precious stones account for 5% of the country’s exports, Thai artists work closely with foreign partners to educate them about what they should be looking for in each stone: Thailand is recognized for its gemstone heating process which maximizes stone color and clarity. As a result, global firms are tapping into Thai talent, including Danish jewelry maker Pandora, which recently invested in a new 5,000-employee crafting facility near Chiang Mai to help double its production capacity by 2020. Drawing more than a thousand Thai gemstone and jewelry suppliers, the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry fair in September gives foreign jewelry designers the chance to experience the benefits of working with Thai artists firsthand through in-person meetings.

A blend of artistic and commercial success can just as easily be spotted in Thailand’s newer industries like animation. Following his company’s 2009 global hit series Shelldon, Dr. Jwanwat Ahriyavraromp (or Dr. Tan as he’s known), CEO and Executive Producer of Shellhut Entertainment, is helping to shape the industry and introduce local artists to international opportunities in the process. “The smiles you see on everybody’s faces can be seen in our animations,” says Tan.

Many local studios are now winning contract work from well-known Western and Asian animation partners. “We are confident that we’re the gate between the two worlds,” noted Tan, explaining that he thinks Thailand will soon produce another global hit.

And while competitive pricing is an important factor, so too is the ability for Thai talent to code switch between wildly different design languages. And this makes sense: the philosophy of exceeding expectations is a widely valued trait in Thailand. For many Thai artists, including cinematic auteurs like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, winner of the renowned Cannes Palme d’Or award, the goal is simply to connect with people’s hearts both during the creative process and through the end product.

Thailand has also introduced the idea of a new Thailand Trust Mark to help foreign trade partners find products and services that meet global regulatory, CSR, and environmental impact standards.

The Thailand Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) is specifically tasked with expanding the market for Thai products and services. DITP ensures Thai entrepreneurs remain competitive in the ASEAN and global markets. The heartfelt sense of craftsmanship that distinguishes the country from its peers is no minor matter. It’s precisely this pride and elegance in execution that makes doing business in Thailand not just profitable but pleasant.

Explore exciting opportunities to work with Thai companies today by getting in touch with the


through its network of global offices.

This article was produced on behalf of the Department of International Trade Promotion, Thailand by Quartz Creative and not by the Quartz editorial staff.