Thailand’s COVID-Induced Economic Crisis: An Opening for Reforms?


About the Webinar

Despite its success in managing the COVID-19 health crisis, Thailand is now facing a series of further crises. The Thai economy is predicted to be the worst pandemic-affected of all ASEAN economies, because of its over-reliance on international tourism. Student-led protests have revealed a generational political divide and deep frustration with the Thai education system. Already under pressure before the pandemic, Thailand’s economy and educational system are now in urgent need of reform. Will the pandemic accelerate or prevent the needed changes? Rattana Lao and Thomas Parks from the Thailand office of the Asia Foundation will present key findings from a series of current research projects — covering online learning, education reform, the impact of COVID on small business and Thailand’s middle-income trap challenges. The pandemic and related crises present a window of opportunity for Thailand to move forward in critical areas in which it has lagged for decades. What can the Thai government do to take advantage of this opportunity? And how can friends of Thailand be supportive?

About the Speakers

Dr Rattana Lao is Senior Program Officer in the Thailand office of the Asia Foundation, managing programmes related to education, inequality and the advanced middle-income trap. She led the research team that prepared the Foundation’s landmark 2019 study, Thailand’s Inequality: Myths & Reality of Isan. Rattana has worked on youth and education programmes with the Kenan Institute Asia, the HEAD Foundation of Singapore, the International Labour Organization, the World Bank, the Open Society Foundation and the European Commission. She has published widely on education reform in Thailand. She earned her doctorate in Comparative and International Education (Political Science) at Columbia University.

Thomas Parks is the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Thailand, where he manages programmes addressing economic development, international relations, education reform, digital technology and inequality. He also oversees the Foundation’s regional cooperation programs in Southeast Asia, with a strong focus on ASEAN and ACMECS. During 2013-2017, Parks was Senior Governance and Fragility Specialist with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Parks is currently leading a multi-country study examining the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economies and livelihoods in Southeast Asia. The report on Thailand was released in September 2020, as Enduring the Pandemic: Surveys of the Impact of Covid-19 on Thai Small Businesses. He earned a master’s degree in international affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University.


This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.

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Oct 30 2020


10:00 am - 11:30 pm