Service sector to liberalise

Service sector to liberalise

Currency exchange businesses are expected to be liberalised by the government this year. Somchai Poomlard
Currency exchange businesses are expected to be liberalised by the government this year. Somchai Poomlard

The Commerce Ministry looks set to liberalise 10 service businesses this year, such as telecom services, treasury centres and currency exchange businesses.

According to Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Business Development Department, studies to liberalise eight businesses have been completed, with the department preparing to open public hearings for the remaining two services soon.

Once the public hearings on the remaining two service businesses are completed, Mrs Auramon said the department would propose them for approval to Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai before presenting them to the cabinet for final approval.

She said the 10 service businesses are on List 3 of the Foreign Business Act of 1999.

Following cabinet approval, foreign businesses in Thailand operating these services will no longer require permission under the law.

The act identifies three lists of activities in which foreign participation may be prohibited or restricted.

Activities on List 1 are designated as businesses that foreigners are not permitted to operate for "special reasons".

Foreign companies are restricted from engaging in the activities on List 1.

Activities on List 2 are designated as "businesses related to national safety or security, or affecting arts and culture, traditional and folk handicraft, or natural resources and environment".

Foreign companies may only engage in the activities stated in List 2 with prior cabinet approval.

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

To engage in activities on List 3, a foreign company must apply for and obtain a Foreign Business License prior to commencing the activity.

In previous years, the Commerce Ministry has issued regulations to exempt certain service businesses from the requirement of obtaining permission under the act.

The most recent announcement was made for commercial banking, life insurance, non-life insurance, domestic lending services, securities, and other businesses related to securities and the capital market, as well as forward contracts.

"For this year, the service businesses expected to be liberalised include telecom services, under the first type of telecommunications business licence according to the Telecommunications Business Act, treasury centre services, currency exchange businesses and software development services," said Mrs Auramon.

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