In partnership with the private sector, the Thai government is making a major commitment to building a modern bioeconomy to export to markets around the world. Thailand’s emerging bioeconomic development is unique in its institutional set-up as well as its scope. In particular, the private sector reportedly sets the agenda for development, while the government provides financial, regulatory and human capacity support.

Molasses being applied as fertiliser
Molasses applied as fertiliser in a sugar plantation. A large part of the Thai bioeconomy development strategy is finding new value-adding opportunities in the value chains of established crops.  Photo: Somrerk Kosolwitthayanant / Getty

Additionally, the current approach to bioeconomy development in Thailand is top-down, and assumes that the success of major industrial players will benefit all actors in the system, including small farmers. In terms of scope, Thailand’s roadmap for the bioeconomy is unique in that it focuses on adding value and making derivative products out of commodities that Thailand already produces in world-leading quantities. Yet despite the private sector’s stated willingness to take the bioeconomy forward, it is still a calling on the government to ease regulations.

This working paper represents a snapshot of the emerging Thai bioeconomy as it was in 2017. The study was part of preparations for a new SEI Initiative on the Bioeconomy, but can also serve as a case study for national planning and further research on the emergence of modern bioeconomies.