Thailand ETF Investors Ignore Political Unrest, Focus on Growth

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Social unrest once again grips Thailand, but investors in Thailand’s markets and exchange traded funds (ETFs) remained blasé about the whole affair. Instead, investors were more focused on Thailand’s recovery in exports, private investment and household spending.

Thailand is coming to a decision involving the assets of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, thousands of anti-government protesters are threatening to march and the government is mobilizing a large police force to control the social unrest, reports Tim Johnston for Financial Times.

Meanwhile, the markets and investors seem largely unfazed. Investors are seen as more anxious about regulatory uncertainty than political strife.

The Board of Investment reports that foreign direct investment in Thailand was up 67% year-over-year in 2009. Yuhei Ohmi, the chief representative of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation in Thailand, believes that “if you are the foreign investor who has to see everything is stable, then Thailand is not the place you should invest. But if you can absorb a lot of things – you have to remember this is still a developing country – and a long-term plan, you can still invest in Thailand.”

The Thai economy expanded 5.8% in the fourth quarter year-over-year, according to BusinessWeek. The economy contracted 2.3% on the whole in 2009. The National Economic & Social Development Board estimates that GDP will grow between 3.5% to 4.5% this year.

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Max Chen contributed to this article.