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'In a Bloomberg Markets ranking, Thailand is second only to China among the world’s best emerging markets for investors. The ranking looks at a series of measures such as market transparency and prospects for growth over the next four years. '

'Thailand’s tiny, $303 billion stock market as of Feb. 22 accounts for just 0.6 percent of the market value of world equities. As of 2011, its gross domestic product per capita was a mere $5,281, less than half that of Mexico’s. The country is prone to disruptions ranging from coups d’etat and civil strife to tsunamis and floods.

And yet Thailand has developed such successful electronics and auto industries that it now produces from 35 to 40 percent of all computer hard disk drives and, in 2010, built more light trucks than Japan.

In agriculture, besides being the world’s biggest rice exporter, Thailand ranks No. 1 in rubber and No. 2 in sugar. The country that brands itself the Land of Smiles has consistently remained one of the world’s top 20 tourism destinations, attracting more visitors in 2010 than Greece. '

'“Until these floods, people had no idea how important Thailand is in the global marketplace,” says Thiraphong Chansiri, 45, president of Thai Union Frozen Products Pcl.

Thiraphong’s Bangkok-based company, which owns the Chicken of the Sea brand in the U.S. and John West in Europe, is the world’s No. 1 producer of canned tuna. '

'Templeton’s Mobius, who oversees more than $40 billion, is making a big bet on the government strategy’s paying off -- and on the Thai economy.

Thai stocks comprised 21 percent of the $16.9 billion Templeton Asian Growth Fund as of Jan. 31 -- second only to Chinese stocks. '
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