Risks rising sharply in Thailand: survey

SINGAPORE - Risks are rising sharply in Thailand, says a survey of expatriate business executives which rates Singapore as Asia's least risky economy and Indonesia the worst.

The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) said Tuesday in its latest survey that "risks are rising sharply in Thailand as a result of the continuing domestic political problems and the possibility of social unrest."

It added that "conditions could deteriorate in 2007."

Thailand's military ousted the elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup last September. The junta has promised to hold elections and a return to democracy by the end of this year.

Of the 14 societies surveyed by PERC, "Thailand is the one that foreign investors should perhaps monitor most closely in the months ahead for changes that could affect business risks," it said.

Thailand's recent moves to impose currency controls and limit foreign stakes in Thai companies have shocked foreign traders and business people.

In a best-to-worst ranking from zero to 10, Singapore got an overall score of 2.74, beating Japan which was in second place with a grade of 3.13, PERC said in the survey obtained by AFP.

Singapore's score was slightly lower than Australia's 2.69 but better than that of the United States at 3.15. Australia and the United States were included in the Asian survey as a basis for comparison, PERC said.

Excluding those two nations, Hong Kong came in third after Japan with a score of 3.33, followed by Malaysia at 4.66, Taiwan at 4.76, South Korea at 4.78 and Vietnam at 5.36.

China was in eighth place with a grade of 5.44, followed by Thailand at 5.49, the Philippines at 5.74, India at 6.24 and Indonesia at 6.79.

Agence France-Presse