While Thai exporters are fretting over the baht's rapid gains against the US dollar, other companies are looking at strength in the currency as a chance to pick up bargain investments overseas.
The government is actively encouraging Thai businesses to make those investments, with the dual goals of finding a bargain thanks to the favorable exchange rate and in helping to soften the baht by increasing capital outflows, analysts said.
Thai companies have spread investments across Southeast Asia and into China, mainly in agriculture but also in tourism, services and construction, according to Thailand's Board of Trade.
Board Secretary-General Pornsilp Patcharintanakul said Thai companies, and not only large-scale operators, were capitalizing on raw materials and cheaper labor costs in neighboring countries.
"With a strong baht, the government is trying to encourage Thai firms to invest in overseas markets," Pornsilp said.
The baht jumped nearly 12 percent over the past year, which analysts fear could hurt exports which account for about 60 percent of the Thai economy.
The sharp gains in the exchange rate prompted the Bank of Thailand in mid-December to impose stringent currency rules that require 30 percent of all incoming investments to be held by financial institutions for up to one year.
The central bank has eased many of the rules after they caused stocks to plunge, and the Thai currency has risen to nine-year highs at about 35 baht to the US dollar over recent weeks.
The central bank is estimated to have spent US$5 billion to soften the baht since the reserve requirement was imposed.
As another way of softening the baht, the military-backed government has also promoted Thai investments offshore to boost outflows of the baht.
Vietnam, which has laid out the welcome mat for foreign investors since it joined the WTO, is among the biggest beneficiaries of Thai investments.
Industrial giant Siam Cement Group (SCG) has earmarked US$3 billion for investments in Vietnam over the next three years.
So far, SCG has invested in the petrochemical, construction material, packaging and logistic sector, the firm said.
The company is also setting up a new concrete facility in Cambodia, in addition to its existing operations in Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, agriculture giant Charoen Pokphand Group is setting up a marine business in the Philippines and expanding a restaurant chain in China.
"In addition to stimulating domestic investments to boost imports, the government has encouraged Thai companies to invest abroad," said Somchai Jitsuchon, director for macro-economics at the private Thailand Development Research Institute.
But overseas investment by Thai firms has not yet had much effect on the baht because the government has not done enough to simplify the process for sending money abroad, Somchai said.