Foreign firms ask for List 3 change

Foreign firms ask for List 3 change

Foreign businesses have called on the government to allow foreigners to take a full 100% stake in Thai businesses on List 3 of the Foreign Business Act (FBA), saying it will help lure foreign investment while the pandemic continues to deter activity.

After meeting with Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit yesterday, Stanley Kang, chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT), said the JFCCT has proposed the ministry help review the liberalisation of service businesses on List 3 under the FBA, particularly those relating to digital adoption and innovation services, by permitting foreigners to hold 100% ownership in the next three years.

He said foreign businesses have greater advancements in technology than those in Thailand.

The FBA has three lists of activities where foreign participation may be prohibited or restricted.

Activities on List 1 are designated as "businesses not permitted for foreigners to operate due to special reasons". Foreign companies are completely restricted from engaging in these activities.

Activities on List 2 are designated as "businesses related to national safety or security, or affecting arts and culture, traditional and folk handicrafts, or natural resources and environment". Foreign companies may only engage in these activities with prior cabinet approval.

Activities on List 3 are designated as "businesses in which Thai nationals are not yet ready to compete with foreigners".

Foreign companies must apply for and obtain a foreign business licence before taking part in these activities.

The JFCCT also asked the Commerce Ministry about the progress of ongoing free-trade agreement talks between Thailand and trading partners, particularly for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Thai-EU FTA as well as the free trade pacts between Thailand and key Chinese provinces and Indian states to boost bilateral trade and investment.

The chamber also asked Mr Jurin about policies to restore tourism following the pandemic, a further relaxation of state quarantine measures and measures to strike a balance between health and safety and economic opportunity, as well as border trade development.

The JFCCT also called for logistics improvements to support Thailand connecting with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, particularly through container supply and shipping route development.

Thosapone Dansuputra, director-general of the Business Development Department, said the JFCCT has proposed the ministry permanently remove some businesses in each sector on List 3 as appropriate after a three-year suspension.

"Foreign businesses are allowed to hold a 100% stake in Thailand if sponsored by the Board of Investment or agreed upon under free-trade agreements," he said.

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