Foreigners may get more investment chances
Liberalisation needed to enable Thailand 4.0
The government is considering liberalising more service businesses for foreign investment including telecommunication, financial services and those that the Board of Investment (BoI) is seeking to attract, such as related to innovation and advanced technology.
Banjongjitt Angsusingh, director–general of the Business Development Department, said responsible authorities are studying the possibility of liberalising more business activities under List 3 of the Foreign Business Act (FBA), as well as those relating to the government's investment promotion under the Thailand 4.0 economic development model focusing on digital economy and advanced technology.
The FBA has three lists of activities in which foreign participation may be prohibited or restricted.
Activities in 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 in 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 these activities with prior cabinet approval.
Activities in 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 commencing in these activities.
Earlier this year, the government green-lit liberalising foreign investment in four businesses: commercial banks, representative offices of foreign banks, and life and non-life insurance.
Ms Banjongjitt said details on the sectors that will be allowed freer foreign investment are likely to be available early next year.
"The department is committed to improving the Foreign Business Act to comply with the country's changing economic condition and hired an advisory firm to study how to upgrade the Act in regards to a new definition of 'foreign', which business sectors need to be controlled or liberalised, and ways to tackle the nominee issue," she said. "The study should be completed by the middle of next year, and should be based on similar acts applied in other countries."
Ms Banjongjitt said Commerce Ministry authorities are committed to continuing investigations into the 10 targeted businesses and 10 provinces that are suspected of operating with nominees next year. The department began stricter inspections this year in the 10 provinces that are key tourism venues. Target businesses include spa services, restaurants, tour guides, property, car rentals, direct sales, souvenir shops and educational services.