Thailand to open more businesses to foreign participation

Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce is proposing that foreign companies be allowed to compete in the telecommunications, financial services and software development sectors through legal changes that would further liberalize the Kingdom’s economy.

The Ministry is proposing amendments to the Foreign Business Act (FBA), which governs which types of businesses in the Kingdom are protected or open to foreign participation. Decades ago, the types and numbers of protected businesses were more extensive. Overtime, as Thailand’s domestic industries have grown, the list has been steadily and considerably reduced.

Thailand has long had a reputation for welcoming foreign-owned businesses. Nearly all types of manufacturing are open to overseas firms except forsome restrictions in the service sector, althoughminimal.

Telecommunications, financial services and software development are all classified as services, so the Ministry’s proposal is another step forward. A Ministry’s official said the government is considering allowing more service industries to invest and compete in the Kingdom.

“The Ministry sees it as imperative to remove all three service businesses from restrictions because those sectors are already subject to specific laws or agencies,” said Thosapone Dansuputra, Director-General of the Business Development Department under the Ministry of Commerce.

“If foreign businesses want to do business in Thailand, they can just ask for permission directly from the supervisory bodies of those sectors. This reduces redundancy and is in line with the goal to create an investment-friendly environment,” he said.

With a few exceptions, the law does protect “Thai businesses related to national safety or security, or affecting arts and culture, traditional and folk handicrafts, or natural resources and environment.” Foreign firms may only engage in these activities if the government approves it.

Photo courtesy of