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Taking the universe of all registered firms as a starting point (435,121 firms), Table 3 shows that exporters are rare. Only 5.7% of all registered firms in Thailand engaged in exporting. Importing is also atypical with only 10.5% of firms importing (hybrids plus pure importers). Overall, an astounding 87.8% of Thai firms do not engage in any direct international trade. We also look at exporters in the manufacturing sector and the retail and wholesale sector separately, given the difference in the nature of their underlying economic activity: manufacturing firms mainly produce physical commodities that are sent abroad, while retailing and wholesaling firms are intermediaries that provide trading services. Exporting is less rare for manufacturing, with 16.7% of firms engaged in exports.

Table 3. 
Overview of Thai Exporters, Registered Firms Only, 2013
 All Sectors Manufacturing Retail and Wholesale 
Trading firms 53,252 16,350 29,843 
 (12.2%) (26.4%) (20.5%) 
Exporting firms 24,970 10,361 12,253 
 (5.7%) (16.7%) (8.4%) 
Pure exporters 7,408 2,129 4,456 
 (1.7%) (3.4%) (3.1%) 
Hybrids 17,562 8,232 7,797 
 (4.0%) (13.3%) (5.4%) 
Pure importers 28,282 5,989 17,590 
 (6.5%) (9.7%) (12.1%) 
Domestic firms 381,869 45,555 115,788 
 (87.8%) (73.6%) (79.5%) 
Total 435,121 61,905 145,631 
 (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) 
 All Sectors Manufacturing Retail and Wholesale 
Trading firms 53,252 16,350 29,843 
 (12.2%) (26.4%) (20.5%) 
Exporting firms 24,970 10,361 12,253 
 (5.7%) (16.7%) (8.4%) 
Pure exporters 7,408 2,129 4,456 
 (1.7%) (3.4%) (3.1%) 
Hybrids 17,562 8,232 7,797 
 (4.0%) (13.3%) (5.4%) 
Pure importers 28,282 5,989 17,590 
 (6.5%) (9.7%) (12.1%) 
Domestic firms 381,869 45,555 115,788 
 (87.8%) (73.6%) (79.5%) 
Total 435,121 61,905 145,631 
 (100.0%) (100.0%) (100.0%) 

Sources: Thai Customs Department, Ministry of Commerce, and authors’ calculations.

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