Executive Summary

Thailand, the second largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia, is an upper middle-income country with pro-investment policies and well-developed infrastructure. Having ruled as an interim government since a May 2014 coup, the military government has postponed elections several times with the latest date set for February 2019. Despite the political uncertainty, Thailand continues to encourage foreign direct investment as a means of promoting economic development, employment, and technology transfer. In recent decades, Thailand has been a major destination for foreign direct investment, and hundreds of U.S. companies have invested in Thailand successfully. Thailand continues to welcome investment from all countries and seeks to avoid dependence on any one country as a source of investment.

The Foreign Business Act (FBA) governs most investment activity by non-Thai nationals. Many U.S. businesses also enjoy investment benefits through the U.S.-Thailand Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, signed in 1833 and updated in 1966. The Treaty allows U.S. citizens, and U.S. majority-owned businesses incorporated in the United States or Thailand, to engage in business on the same basis as Thai companies (national treatment) and exempt them from most FBA restrictions on foreign investment, although some types of business are excluded under the Treaty. Notwithstanding their Treaty rights, many U.S. investors choose to form joint ventures with Thai partners who hold a majority stake in the company, leveraging their partner’s knowledge of the Thai economy and local regulations.

The Thai government maintains a regulatory framework that broadly encourages investment though the process of rule-making and interpretation is not always transparent or predictable. Government policies generally do not restrict the free flow of financial resources to support product and factor markets, and credit is generally allocated on market terms rather than by directed lending.

The Board of Investment (BOI) is Thailand’s principal investment promotion authority and offers business support and investment incentives uniformly to both qualified domestic and foreign investors through clearly articulated application procedures. Investment incentives include both tax and non-tax privileges.

The government launched the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development plan in 2017, which is a part of the “Thailand 4.0” strategy introduced in 2016. Many of the planned projects could provide opportunity for investments in the targeted sectors, such as infrastructure, technology, processed foods, aviation, robotics, and medical/biotechnology.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 37/180 http://www.transparency.org/
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2017 26/190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings/
Global Innovation Index 2017 51/127 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
U.S. FDI in Partner Country (USD M USD , stock positions) 2016 USD 11,774 http://www.bea.gov/
World Bank GNI per capita 2016 USD 5,640 http://data.worldbank.org/

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Thailand continues to welcome investment from all countries and seeks to avoid dependence on any one country as a source of investment. Many companies are carefully considering market factors, including the country’s declining competitiveness relative to other countries in the region, when making future investment decisions.

The FBA prescribes a wide range of business that may not be carried out by foreigners unless a relevant license has been obtained or an exemption applies. The term “foreigner” includes Thai registered companies where half or more of the capital is held by non-Thai individuals, foreign registered companies, and Thai registered companies which are themselves majority foreign-owned.

BOI, Thailand’s investment promotion agency, assists Thai and foreign investors to start and conduct businesses in targeted economic sectors by offering both tax and non-tax incentives.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

There is no general prohibition against foreigners or domestic private entities, but various acts proscribe certain foreign-ownership restrictions, primarily in services such as banking, insurance, and telecommunications. The FBA details certain types of business activities reserved for Thai nationals. Foreign investment in those businesses must comprise less than 50 percent of share capital, unless specially permitted or otherwise exempt.

The following three lists, attached as FBA annexes, detail restricted businesses for foreigners:

List 1. This contains activities prohibited to non-nationals, including newspaper and radio broadcasting stations and businesses; rice and livestock farming; forestry and timber processing from a natural forest; fishery in Thai territorial waters and specific economic zones; extraction of Thai medicinal herbs; trading and auctioning of antique objects or objects of historical value from Thailand; making or casting of Buddha images and monk alms bowls; and land trading.

List 2. This contains activities related to national safety or security, and activities related to arts and culture, tradition, folk handicrafts, or natural resources and the environment. Restrictions apply to the production, sale and maintenance of firearms and armaments; domestic transportation by land, water, and air; trading of Thai antiques or art objects; mining, including rock blasting and rock crushing; and timber processing for production of furniture and utensils.

A foreign majority-owned company can engage in List 2 activities if Thai nationals or legal persons hold not less than 40 percent of the total shares and the number of Thai directors is not less than two-fifths of the total number of directors.

List 3. Restricted businesses in this list include accounting, legal, architectural, and engineering services; retail and wholesale; advertising businesses; hotels; guided touring; selling food or beverages; and other service-sector businesses.

Thailand does not maintain an investment screening mechanism, but investors could receive additional incentives/privileges if they invest in priority areas, such as high-technology industries.

The U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Embassy Bangkok, is responsible for issuing a certification letter to confirm that the applicant is qualified to apply for protection under the Treaty of Amity. The applicant must first obtain documents verifying that the company has been registered in compliance with Thai Law. Upon receipt of the required documents, the U.S. Commercial Service office will then certify to the Foreign Administration Division, Department of Business Development, Ministry of Commerce (MOC) that the applicant is seeking to register an American-owned and managed company or that the applicant is an American citizen and is therefore entitled to national treatment under the provisions of the Treaty. For more information on how to apply for protection under the Treaty of Amity, please e-mail: ktantisa@trade.gov.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The World Trade Organization conducted a Trade Policy Review of Thailand in November 2015. https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp426_e.htm .

Business Facilitation

The MOC’s Department of Business Development (DBD) is generally responsible for business registration, which can be performed online or manually. The legal requirement for the process to be completed in Thai language has caused foreign entities to spend three to six months to complete the process as they typically need to hire a law firm or consulting firm to handle their applications. Firms engaging in production activities also need to register with the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

To operate restricted businesses as defined by the FBA’s List 2 and 3, non-Thai entities must obtain a foreign business license, approved by the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) and/or Director-General of the MOC’s Department of Business Development, depending on the business category.

Effective June 9, 2017, the MOC removed certain business categories from FBA’s Annex 3 list, such as regional office services and contractual services provided to government bodies and state-owned enterprises, which contributed to a 4.6 percent drop in foreign business permission requests. The MOC expects the number of applications to rise in 2018 due to Thailand’s improved World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking and Royal Thai Government (RTG) policies to attract more foreign investment.

American investors who wish to take majority shares or wholly own businesses under FBA’s Annex 3 list may apply for protection under the U.S.-Thai Treaty of Amity.

Americans planning to invest in Thailand are advised to obtain qualified legal advice, especially considering Thai business regulations are governed predominantly by criminal, not civil, law. Foreigners are rarely jailed for improper business activities, but violation of business regulations can carry heavy criminal penalties. Thailand has an independent judiciary and government authorities are generally not permitted to interfere in the court system once a case is in process.

As of March 2018, the MOC’s Department of Business Development has reportedly been working on additional FBA changes, particularly the clarification of the definition of “foreigner” to bring in line with international practices, and possible removal of certain service businesses from FBA’s List 3. The DBD is expected to complete the review by May 2018.

A company is required to have registered capital of two million Thai baht per foreign employee in order to obtain work permits. Foreign employees must enter the country on a non-immigrant visa and then submit work permit applications directly to the Department of Labor. Application processing takes approximately one week. For more information on Thailand visas, please refer to http://www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/4908/15388-Non-Immigrant-Visa-%22B%22-for-Business-and.html .

On February 1, 2018, the Thai government launched the Smart Visa program for foreigners with technology specializations in ten targeted industries. Foreigners would be granted a maximum four-year visa to work in Thailand without need for work permit and would enjoy relaxed immigration rules for their spouses and children. More information is available at http://www.boi.go.th/newboi/index.php?page=detail_smart_visa&language=de .

Employment applications in Thailand often state a preferred applicant gender and age although Thailand’s Constitution guarantees equality for all persons and prohibits discrimination on 12 specified grounds. Indigenous minorities, such as highlanders, forest dwellers and “sea gypsies” who often lack legal status work more than the general populace in agriculture, home work, and in self-employment micro businesses, which are not fully covered by labor and social security laws.

Outward Investment

Thai companies are expanding and investing overseas, especially in neighboring ASEAN countries to take an advantage of lower cost of production; but also in the United States, Europe and Asia. A stronger domestic currency, rising cash holdings, and subdued domestic growth are helping to drive outward investment. Food, agro-industry, and chemical sectors account for the main share of outward flows. Thai corporate laws allow outbound investments in the form of an independent affiliate (foreign company), as a branch of the Thai legal entity, or by a financial investment abroad from a Thai company. BOI and the MOC’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) share responsibility for promoting outward investment, with BOI focused on outward investment in major countries and the DITP covering smaller markets.

The 1966 iteration of the U.S.-Thai Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations allows U.S. citizens, and U.S. majority-owned businesses incorporated in the United States or Thailand, to engage in business on the same basis as Thai companies (national treatment). However, the FBA applies restrictions to U.S. investment in communications, transportation, exploitation of land and other natural resources, and domestic trade in agricultural products.

In October 2002, the United States and Thailand signed a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which serves as a forum to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues such as intellectual property rights, customs, market-access barriers, and areas of mutual concern.

Thailand has Bilateral Investment Treaties with Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation (signed, not in force), Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan (signed, not in force), Turkey, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe (signed, not in force). Thailand is a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), currently under negotiation.

Thailand belongs to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional economic bloc covering 600 million populations, which has a free trade agreement among member countries and with Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Korea, and Hong Kong (to be in effect on January 1, 2019). ASEAN has a comprehensive economic partnership with Japan and is pursuing FTA negotiations with the EU, Pakistan, and Canada.

Thailand and the United States established a bilateral tax treaty in 1996. Thailand signed the U.S.-Thailand Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act on March 4, 2016. The legislation, the Act on the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand to Improve International Tax Compliance and to Implement FATCA, BE 2560, went into effect in October 2017.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Since the May 2014 coup and installation of the military-led government and legislature, investors have noted a lack of transparency in the rule-making process across a broad range of sectors. Generally, the Council of Ministers, as an entity entrusted with executive power, has the authority to propose bills to the National Assembly for consideration and approval, then the bill will be signed by the King and published in the Government Gazette before being promulgated as an Act and having force of law.

There are many examples in the past three years of laws drafted in line ministries with little or no input from stakeholders, particularly international investors. In some cases, laws have been passed quickly through the “rubber stamp” legislature, or ministries have issued sudden notifications directed through the use of the Prime Minister’s authority under Article 44 of the interim constitution. Foreign investors have, on occasion, expressed frustration that draft regulations are not made public until they are finalized, and that comments they submit on draft regulations they do see are not taken into consideration. Non-governmental organizations are actively consulted by the government on policy related to pharmaceuticals, alcohol, infant formula, and meat imports, especially within the health sphere as well as intellectual property. In other areas, such as digital and cybersecurity laws, there have been instances in which public outcry over leaked government documents has led to withdrawal and review of proposed legislation.

U.S. businesses have repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of transparency of the Thai customs regime and the significant discretionary authority exercised by Customs Department officials. The U.S. government and private sector have expressed concern about the inconsistent application of Thailand’s transaction valuation methodology and repeated use of arbitrary values by the Customs Department. Thailand’s new Customs Act entered into force on November 13, 2017. The Act removes the Customs Department Director General’s authority and discretion to increase the Customs value of imports, and reduces the percentage of remuneration awarded to officials and non-officials from 55 percent to 40 percent of the sale price of seized goods (or of the fine amount). While a welcome development, reduction of this remuneration is insufficient to address the issue of personal incentives. Consistent and predictable enforcement of government regulations remains problematic for investment in Thailand.

Gratuity payments to civil servants responsible for regulatory oversight and enforcement remain a common practice. Firms that refuse to make such payments can be placed at a competitive disadvantage when compared to other firms in the same field.

The Royal Thai Government Gazette (www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th ) is Thailand’s public journal of the country’s centralized online location of actual laws and regulation notifications.

International Regulatory Considerations

While Thailand is a member of the WTO and notifies most draft technical regulations to the TBT Committee and the SPS Committee, the country does not always follow WTO or other international standard setting norms or guidance, preferring to set its own standards in many cases. In October 2015, the country ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which came into effect in February 2017.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Thailand has a civil code, commercial code, and a bankruptcy law. Monetary judgments are calculated at the market exchange rate. Decisions of foreign courts are not accepted or enforceable in Thai courts. Disputes such as the enforcement of property or contract rights have generally been resolved in Thai courts. Thailand has an independent judiciary that is generally effective in enforcing property and contractual rights. The legal process is slow in practice, and litigants or third parties sometimes affect judgments through extra-legal means.

There are three levels to the judicial system in Thailand: the Court of First Instance, which handles most matters at inception, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. There are specialized courts such as the Labor Court, Family Court, Tax Court, the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, and the Bankruptcy Court.

The Specialized Appeal Courts handles appeals from specialized courts. The Supreme Court has discretion whether to take a case that has been decided by the Specialized Appeal Court. If the Supreme Court decides not to take up a case, the Specialized Appeal Court decision stands.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Foreign Business Act (FBA) governs most investment activity by non-Thai nationals. Foreign investment in most service sectors is limited to 49 percent ownership. Other key laws governing foreign investment are the Alien Employment Act (1978) and the Investment Promotion Act (1977). Many U.S. businesses enjoy investment benefits through the U.S.-Thailand Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations.

The 2007 Financial Institutions Business Act unified the legal framework and strengthened the Bank of Thailand’s (the country’s central bank) supervision and enforcement powers. The Act allows the Bank of Thailand to raise foreign ownership limits for existing local banks from 25 percent to 49 percent on a case-by-case basis. The Minister of Finance can authorize foreign ownership above 49 percent if recommended by the central bank. Details are available at: https://www.bot.or.th/English/AboutBOT/LawsAndRegulations/SiteAssets/ Law_E24_Institution_Sep2011.pdf .

Apart from acquiring shares of existing local banks, foreign banks can enter the Thai banking system by obtaining new licenses (from the central bank and the Ministry of Finance). The 2008 Life Insurance Act and the 2008 Non-Life Insurance Act apply a 25 percent cap on foreign ownership of insurance companies and on foreign boards of directors. However, in January 2016 the Office of the Insurance Commission (OIC), the primary regulator, notified that any Thai insurance (both life and non-life) company wishing to have one or more foreigners holding more than 25 percent (but no more than 49 percent) of its total voting shares, or to have foreigners comprising more than a quarter (but less than half) of its total directors, may apply for OIC approval. Any foreign national wishing to hold more than 10 percent voting shares in an insurance company must seek OIC approval. With approval, a foreign national can acquire up to 49 percent of the voting shares.

Any foreign shareholder holding more than ten percent of the voting shares prior to the effective date of the notification is grandfathered in and may maintain their current shareholding, but must obtain OIC approval to increase shareholding. Finally, the Finance Minister, with OIC’s recommendation, has discretion to permit greater than 49 percent foreign ownership and/or a majority of foreign directors, when the operation of the insurance company may cause loss to insured parties or to the public.

For information on Thailand’s “One Start One Stop” investment center, please visit: http://osos.boi.go.th . Investors in Thailand can visit the physical office, located on the 18th floor of Chamchuri Square, on Rama 4/Phayathai Road in Bangkok.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

In July 2017, Thailand enacted an updated version of the Trade Competition Act, which covers all business activities except state-owned enterprises exempted by law or government policies related to national security, public benefit, common interest and public utility, as well as cooperatives, agricultural and cooperative groups, government agencies, and other enterprises exempted by the law.

The Office of Trade Competition Commission (OTCC) is an independent agency and the main enforcer of the Trade Competition Act. The OTCC, comprised of seven members nominated by a selection committee and endorsed by Cabinet approval, advises the government on the issuance of relevant regulations, ensures fair and free trade practices, investigates cases and complaints of unfair trade, and pursues criminal and disciplinary actions against those found guilty of unfair trade practices stipulated in the law. The law focuses on unlawful exercise of market dominance; mergers or collusions that could lead to monopoly, unfair competition and restricting competition; and unfair trade practices. Merger control thresholds and additional details will be provided in notifications and regulations to be issued later.

The Act broadens the definition of a business operator to include affiliates and group companies, and broadens the liability of directors and management to be subject to criminal and administrative sanction if their actions (or omissions) resulted in violation. The Act also provides more details of penalties for cases facing administrative court or criminal court actions. The amended Act has been noted as an improvement towards international standards.

The government has authority to control the price of specific products under the Price of Goods and Services Act. The MOC’s Department of Internal Trade administers the law and interacts with affected companies, though the Committee on Prices of Goods and Services makes the final decision on products to add or remove from price controls. As of January 2018, the MOC increased the number of controlled commodities and services to 53 from 42 in the previous year. Aside from these controlled commodities, raising the prices of consumer products is prohibited without first notifying the Committee. The government uses its controlling stakes in major suppliers of products and services such as Thai Airways and PTT Public Company Limited to influence prices in the market. Thailand has extensive environmental-protection legislation, including the National Environmental Quality Act, the Hazardous Substances Act, and the Factories Act. Food purity and drug efficacy are controlled and regulated by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (with authority similar to its U.S. counterpart). The Ministry of Labor sets and administers labor and employment standards.

Expropriation and Compensation

Private property can be expropriated for public purposes in accordance with Thai law, which provides for due process and compensation. This process is seldom used and has been principally confined to real estate owned by Thai nationals and needed for public works projects. In the past year, U.S. firms have not reported problems with property appropriation in Thailand.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Thailand is a signatory to the New York Convention, and enacted its own rules on conciliation and arbitration in the Arbitration Act of 2002. Thailand signed the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes in 1985, but has not yet ratified the Convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

There have been a couple of notable cases of investor-state disputes in the last fifteen years, but none involve U.S. companies. Currently, Thailand is engaged in a dispute with Australian firm Kingsgate Consolidated Limited after the RTG invoked a special power to shut down a gold mine in early 2017 due to reported environmental impacts and conflicts with locals. Kingsgate, a major shareholder of the operator of the disputed mine, claimed the RTG violated the Australia-Thailand FTA and commenced international arbitration proceedings against the country to recover losses incurred from the closure. The process is still continuing as of March 2018.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Thailand’s national Arbitration Act of 2002, modeled in part after the UNCITRAL Model law, governs domestic and international arbitration proceedings and states that “in cases where an arbitral award was made in a foreign country, the award shall be enforced by the competent court only if it is subject to an international convention, treaty, or agreement to which Thailand is a party.” The Thai Arbitration Institute (TAI) of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, Office of the Judiciary, and the Office of the Arbitration Tribunal of the Board of Trade of Thailand provide arbitration services to proceedings held within Thailand. In 2017, new rules of TAI came into force with changes aimed to address weaknesses of conducting arbitration in Thailand, including the TAI’s power to appoint arbitrators when any of the parties in dispute fails to do so and the setting up of the procedural duration of 180 days and the final awarding period of within 30 days of the closure of pleadings. Currently, a draft amendment of the Arbitration Act to allow foreign arbitrators to take part in cases involving foreign parties is being reviewed by the Council of State, after it was approved by the Cabinet. If endorsed, it will go before the legislature for deliberation before being put into effect. In addition, the semi-public Thailand Arbitration Center offers mediation and arbitration for civil and commercial disputes. Under very limited circumstances, a court can set aside an arbitration award. Thailand does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Thailand’s bankruptcy law allows for corporate restructuring similar to U.S. Chapter 11, and does not criminalize bankruptcy. While bankruptcy is under consideration, creditors can request the following ex parte applications from the court: an examination by the receiver of all assets of the debtor and/or that the debtor attend questioning on the existence of assets; a requirement that the debtor provide satisfactory security to the court; and immediate seizure of the debtor’s assets and/or evidence in order to prevent the loss of destruction of such items.

The law stipulates that all applications for repayment must be made within one month after the Court publishes the appointment of an official receiver. If a creditor eligible for repayment does not apply within this period, he forfeits his right to receive payment or the Court may cancel the order to reorganize the business. If any person opposes a filing, the receiver shall investigate the matter and approve, partially approve, or dismiss the application. Any objections to the orders issued by the receiver may be filed with the Court within 14 days after learning of the issued order.

National Credit Bureau of Thailand (NCB), merger of Thai Credit Bureau and Central Credit Information Services, serves the financial services industry with information on consumers and businesses. In June 2017, the World Bank’s Doing Business Report placed Thailand 26th out of 190 countries on resolving insolvency. The report said that debtor may file for reorganization only when commencing insolvency proceedings. Under the insolvency framework in Thailand, a creditor is allowed to file for insolvency of the debtor.

Investment Incentives

The Board of Investment (BOI) is Thailand’s central investment promotion authority. BOI offers investment incentives uniformly to qualified domestic and foreign investors with clear application procedures. To upgrade the country’s technological capacity, the BOI now gives more weight to the application on agriculture, food, digital, logistics, education, tourism, and services industries.

Two of the most significant privileges offered by the BOI for promoted projects are:

  • Tax privileges, such as corporate income tax exemption, tariff exemption, reduction on import machinery and tariff exemption, or reduction on imported raw material.
  • Nontax privileges, such as permission to own land, permission to bring foreign experts to work on the promoted projects, exemption on foreign ownership of companies, and exemption from work permits and visa rules.

Thailand’s flagship investment zone called “Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC),” spanning the provinces of Chachengsao, Chonburi, and Rayong with a combined area of 5,128 square miles, will be built on the existing Eastern Seaboard industrial area that has been an investment destination for 30 years. The Thai government aims to establish the EEC as a primary investment and infrastructure hub in ASEAN, serving as a central gateway to East Asia and to South Asia. The EEC plans call for the creation of new, smart cities, a digital park, a data center, and new facilities for next generation automotive, aviation, robotics, and smart electronics.

The EEC Act provides investment incentives and privileges. Investors will be able to access long-term land leases of 99 years (with an initial lease of up to 50 years and a renewal of up to 49 years) and the PPP approval process will be shortened to three months. The BOI will offer up to 15 years corporate income tax exemption for strategic projects in the EEC. There will be a 17 percent maximum personal income tax for investors, managers, and experts who are employed by companies in target industries with headquarters and facilities situated in the EEC. Investment projects with a significant R&D, innovation, or human resource development component may be eligible for additional grants and incentives.

For more information, contact the Thai Board of Investment, 555 Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900. Tel: 0-2553-8111. Website: www.boi.go.th .

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT), a state-enterprise under the Ministry of Industry, established the first industrial estates in Thailand, including Laem Chabang Industrial Estate in Chonburi Province (eastern) and Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong Province (eastern). Foreign-owned firms have the same investment opportunities as Thai entities, but the IEAT Act requires the IEAT Committee to consider and approve the amount of space/land that a foreign owned firm plans to buy or lease in industrial estates. In practice, there is no record of disapproval for requested land. Private developers are heavily involved in the development of these estates. The IEAT currently operates 9 estates, plus 39 more in conjunction with the private sector in 15 provinces nationwide. Private sector developers operate over 50 industrial estates, most of which have received promotion privileges from the Board of Investment.

The IEAT established 12 special IEAT Free Zones, reserved for the location of industries manufacturing for export only, to which businesses may import raw materials and export finished products free of duty (including value added tax). These zones are located within industrial estates, and many have customs facilities to speed processing. The free trade zones are located in Chonburi, Lampun, Pichit, Songkhla, Samut Prakarn, Bangkok (at Lad Krabang), Ayuddhya, and Chachoengsao. In addition to these zones, factories may apply for permission to establish a bonded warehouse within their premises to which raw materials, used exclusively in the production of products for export, may be imported duty free.

Thailand is focusing on improving trade and investment with neighboring countries, and is establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in many provinces including Tak, Nong Khai, Mukdahan, Sa Kaeo, Trad, Narathiwat, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom, and Kanchanaburi. Business sectors and industries that might benefit from incentives offered in the SEZs include logistics, warehouses near border areas, distribution, services, tourism, labor-intensive factories, and manufacturers using raw materials from neighboring countries.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

In 2017, Thailand passed into effect the Royal Decree on Foreign Worker Management, which replaces the Foreign Employment Act and the Royal Decree on the Management of Migrant Employment, to manage the employment of foreigners, regardless of the industry, in a more systematic fashion. The new law provided a more clarified definition or “work” and increased as well as offered new penalties for various offences.

Thai law requires foreign workers to have a work permit issued by the Ministry of Labor in order to work legally in Thailand; Thai law also reserves 39 occupations for Thai workers and will not grant work permits for foreigners to engage in these occupations, including lawyers, architects, and civil engineers.

Generally, employers must hire four Thais for every one foreign employee. Foreign private sector employees require work permits, which are granted by the Ministry of Labor with consideration on whether the:

  • Job could be done by a Thai employee;
  • Foreigner is qualified for the job; and
  • Job fits the present economic needs of the Kingdom.

Different requirements apply to companies promoted by the BOI, which typically result in greater flexibility and ease in obtaining work permits for foreign nationals.

Such schemes apply equally to senior management and boards of directors. According to the Foreign Business Act, if a foreigner is the managing partner or the manager, the company is subject to the restrictions applicable to foreign businesses and the Foreign Business License application.

While the employment of foreigners in some sectors are subject to foreign equity restrictions, exceptions from the restrictions of the Foreign Business Act can be granted as promotional privileges by BOI or IEAT, or, as a temporary measure, in the form of government approval issued by the Thai government.

Exceptions can also be provided based on international treaties Thailand to which Thailand is a party. U.S. companies or nationals under the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between Thailand and the United States (Treaty of Amity) can be eligible for “national treatment,” where, with some exceptions, they are treated in the same way as Thai nationals.

The RTG does not currently have any specific statutory law governing “forced localization” policy in which foreign investors must use domestic content in goods or technology, but it has encouraged such an approach through additional preference in procurement. While there are currently no requirements for foreign IT providers to turn over source code and/or provide access to surveillance, the RTG is drafting new laws and regulations on cybersecurity and personal data protection that may affect all businesses and consumers in Thailand. Thailand has implemented a requirement to have all debit transactions processed by a domestic debit card network using a proprietary chip. Regarding Thailand’s import permitting process for several agricultural products, such as soybean and milk, there are separate domestic absorption rate requirements to purchase local product at fixed prices.

Real Property

Property rights are guaranteed by the Constitution against being condemned or nationalized without fair compensation. Thai government policy generally does not permit foreigners to own land but there have been cases that official permissions were granted under certain laws or ministerial regulations for residential, business or even religious purposes. Lease is also allowed for foreigners as the governing Civil and Commercial Code does not distinguish this right between foreign and Thai nationals. Foreign ownership of condominiums and buildings is also permitted under certain and relevant laws. Secured interests in property, such as mortgage and pledge, are recognized and enforced. Under Thai law, unoccupied property legally owned by foreigners and Thais may be subject to adverse possession by squatters or people, who stay on that property for at least 10 years. According to the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business report, Thailand’s Registering Property ranking remained unchanged at 68 out of 190 countries.

Intellectual Property Rights

Thailand’s efforts to clampdown on widespread commercial IP counterfeiting and piracy have been enhanced by a strong political commitment to IPR enforcement by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, as illustrated by the creation of the 12-agency Sub-Committee and the establishment of a 20-year IP Roadmap as well as close coordination among the country’s Internal Security Operations Command, enforcement agencies and IP rights holders.

In late 2017, Thailand was upgraded from the USTR Special 301 Priority Watch List, where it had been placed since 2007, to the Watch List. Currently, there are no Thai markets on the USTR Notorious Markets Reports.

Patents and Trademarks

Thailand’s patent regime generally provides minimal protection for most inventions, with the examination of patent applications and the issuance of patents taking, on average, six to eight years in some technology sectors, and as high as 15-18 years for pharmaceutical patents. As of February 2018, there were around 18,000 patent applications pending for examination and granting, according to the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP). In order to resolve the backlog problem, DIP has increased hiring to achieve the staffing goal of 78 patent examiners and 20 trademark examiners. DIP aims to bring the trademark approval timeline down to nine months, from the current 10-14 months, by the end of 2018.

The RTG continues its drafting process for an amendment to the Patent Act that would streamline the patent registration process and implement its international obligations under the Amendment of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) related to patent and public health, which it ratified in January 2016.

Starting in September 2017, rights owners can file for sound trademark registration, a development enabled by the amendment of Thailand’s Trademark Act in July 2016. Thailand acceded to the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol) in August 2017, and the agreement entered into effect in November 2017.

The RTG amended the Computer Crime Act in 2017 to list IPR infringement as a predicate offense under Section 20, enabling IP rights holders to file requests to either DIP or the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society for the deletion or disabling of access to IPR-infringing content or removal of such content from online computer systems.


Thailand’s copyright law, which took effect in March 1995, is currently undergoing the amendment process in relation to technological protection measures (TPMs), rights management information (RMI), and Internet service provider (ISP) liability to enhance the country’s legal mechanism for the protection of copyrighted works and to prepare Thailand to the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). The public consultation of the draft amendment was concluded in February 2018 and the draft amendment is being prepared for submission to the Cabinet to review and approve before it goes to the NLA for deliberation and, eventually, enactment.

Geographical Indications

The Geographical Indications Act, which has been in force since April 2004, allows rights holders to seek protection for indications that identify a good as originating in the territory of a member or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin. The existence of a similar previously registered trademark does not constitute grounds for refusal of a GI registration in Thailand. To date, only one U.S. geographical indication is protected by this Act.

IP Enforcement

Thailand has provided ex officio authority for border enforcement officials with respect to in-transit goods; set enforcement benchmarks; began publishing enforcement statistics online monthly; and stepped up efforts to investigate IP cases. Thailand has a Court of Appeal for Specialized Cases, which hears appeals from the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court, including administrative appeals from DIP that already receive the first instance decision from the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court.

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The Thai government maintains a regulatory framework that broadly encourages and facilitates portfolio investment and largely avoids market-distorting support for specific sectors. The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) is the country’s national stock market, which was set up under the Securities Exchange of Thailand Act B.E. 2535 (1992). There is sufficient liquidity in the markets to allow investors to enter and exit sizeable positions. Government policies generally do not restrict the free flow of financial resources to support product and factor markets. The Bank of Thailand, the country’s central bank, has respected IMF Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions.

Credit is generally allocated on market terms rather than by “direct lending.” Foreign investors are not restricted from borrowing on the local market. In theory, the private sector has access to a wide variety of credit instruments, ranging from fixed term lending to overdraft protection to bills of exchange and bonds. However, the private debt market is not well developed, and most corporate financing, whether for short-term working capital needs, trade financing, or project financing, requires borrowing from commercial banks or other financial institutions.

Money and Banking System

In general, a commercial bank in Thailand provides services of accepting deposits from the public, granting credit, buying and selling of foreign currencies, buying and selling of bills of exchange, which includes discounting or re-discounting bills of exchange, accepting, and guaranteeing of bills of exchange. Furthermore, commercial banks also provide credit guarantees, payment, remittance and financial instrument for risk management such as interest rate derivatives and foreign exchange derivatives. Additional business to support capital market development, such debt and equity instruments, is allowed. A commercial bank may also provide other services that enhance its efficiency, such as bank assurance and e-banking.

Thailand’s banking sector, with 14 domestic commercial banks, is healthy with low rates of non-performing loans (around 2.91 percent in December 2017) and a high ratio of capital funds/risk assets (capital adequacy) of 17.9 percent in December 2017. Thailand’s largest commercial bank is Bangkok Bank, with assets totaling USD 87.5 billion as of December 2017. The combined assets of the five largest commercial banks totaled USD 380.7 billion, or 76.8 percent of the total assets of the Thai banking system.

Thailand’s central bank is the Bank of Thailand (BOT), which is governed by an appointed Governor with a five-year term. The BOT prints and issues banknotes and other security documents, promotes monetary stability and formulates monetary policies, manages the BOT’s assets, provides banking facilities to the government, acts as the registrar of government bonds, and provides banking facilities for financial institutions.

There are currently 11 registered foreign bank branches and four foreign bank subsidiaries operating in Thailand. Foreign commercial banks can set up a branch in Thailand; Ministry of Finance issues licenses and Bank of Thailand issues advice. Foreign commercial bank branches are limited to three branches/ATMs and foreign commercial bank subsidiaries are limited to 20 branches and 20 off-premise ATMs per subsidiary. Foreign banks must maintain minimum capital funds of 125 million baht (USD 3.68 million at 2017 exchange rate) invested in government or state enterprise securities, or directly deposited in the Bank of Thailand. The number of expatriate management personnel is limited to six people at full branches, although the Thai authorities frequently grant exceptions on the basis of need. There are no records of loss among banks in the past three years.

Non-residents can open and maintain foreign currency accounts without deposit and withdrawal ceilings. Any deposits in the Thai Baht currency must be derived from one of the following sources: conversion of foreign currencies, payment of goods and services, or a capital transfers. Any withdrawals are permitted, except the withdrawal of funds for credit to another non-resident person or purchase of foreign currency involving an overdraft.

Since mid-2017, the Bank of Thailand started to approve Thai domestic banks’ request to develop financial innovations based on blockchain technology but the system is being closely monitored under the Thai central bank’s “Regulatory Sandbox guidelines.”

Thailand’s alternative financial services are cooperatives, micro saving groups, the state village funds, and loan sharks, which provide basic financial services to households, mostly in rural areas. These alternative financial services are also regulated by the government.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

There are no limitations placed on foreign investors for converting, transferring, or repatriating funds associated with an investment; however, supporting documentation is required. Any person who brings Thai Baht currency or foreign currency in or out of Thailand with aggregate amount exceeding USD 15,000 or the equivalent must declare the amount at a Customs checkpoint. Investment funds are allowed to be freely converted into any currency.

The exchange rate is generally determined by a managed float system. The exchange rate movements have also been determined by market fundamentals; however, during the period of excessive capital inflows (i.e. exchange rate speculation), the central bank has stepped in to prevent extreme movements in the currency and to reduce the duration and extent of the exchange rate’s deviation from the equilibrium.

Remittance Policies

There are no time limitations on remittances. There are no limitations on the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of profits or revenue for direct and portfolio investments.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Thailand currently does not have a sovereign wealth fund, and the Bank of Thailand is not pursuing the creation of such a fund. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Thailand to create one due to its large accumulated foreign exchange reserves of USD 213 billion (as of March 2018).

Thailand’s 56 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have total assets of USD 385 billion and a combined net income of USD 5.5 billion. They employ around 270,000 people, or 0.7 percent of the Thai labor force. Thailand’s SOEs operate primarily in service delivery, in particular the energy, telecommunications, transportation, and financial sectors. The full list of SOEs list is published under the website of the State Enterprise Policy Office under the Ministry of Finance: (www.sepo.go.th ).

The government generally defines SOEs as special agencies established by law for a particular purpose that are 100 percent owned by the government (through the Ministry of Finance as a shareholder). Limited liability companies/public companies limited require 50 percent higher government ownership. Of the 56 total SOEs, 43 are wholly-owned and 13 are majority-owned. Twelve of these companies are limited liabilities. Five are publicly listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand: Thai Airways International Public Company Limited, Airport of Thailand Public Company Limited, PTT Public Company Limited, MCOT Public Company Limited, and Krung Thai Bank Public Company Limited. By regulation, at least one-third of SOE boards must be comprised of independent directors.

Private enterprises can compete with SOEs under the same terms and conditions with respect to market share, products/services, and incentives in most sectors, but there are some exceptions, such as fixed line operations in the telecommunications sector.

According to officials at the State Enterprise Policy Committee (SEPO), SOEs adhere to the OECD Guidelines on corporate governance, including the state acting as an owner. The current guidelines are not yet sufficient to ensure a level playing field between SOEs and private sector enterprises, but the subcommittee of corporate governance has realized the importance of the issue, which is still under the process of consideration and review.

Generally, SOE senior management reports directly to a line minister and to SEPO. Corporate board seats are typically allocated to senior government officials or politically-affiliated individuals. The SEPO Committee tries to limit political interference in board appointments.

Privatization Program

The 1999 State Enterprise Corporatization Act provides the framework for the conversion of SOEs into stock companies, and corporatization is viewed as an intermediate step toward eventual privatization. (Note: “Corporatization” describes the process by which an SOE adjusts its internal structure to resemble a publicly-traded enterprise; “privatization” means that a majority of the SOE’s shares is sold to the public, and “partial privatization” refers to a situation in which less than half of a company’s shares are sold to the public.) Foreign investors are allowed to participate in privatization, but restrictions are applied in certain sectors, regulated by the FBA and the Act on Standards Qualifications for Directors and Employees of State Enterprises of 1975 and its series of amendments. However, privatizations have been on hold since 2006 due to strong resistance from labor unions of the State Owned Enterprises.

The 15-member State Enterprises Policy Commission, or “superboard,” oversees reform of the country’s 56 SOEs. In March 2015, the superboard approved, in principle, the establishment of a holding firm to supervise 12 SOEs, which have been partially equitized and listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand, while SEPO will be retained to supervise SOEs that have been established by specific laws, including the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, and the Provincial Electricity Authority. As of 2018, the superboard is still in the process of pushing through a new law that would reform SOEs and ensure transparent management decisions; however, privatization is not part of this process.

In 2017, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told participants of a seminar to promote the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP) that his administration is committed the broader adoption of these codes through cooperation with the private sector and relevant groups to achieve a substantial change in the country’s Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) practices. Thailand does not have a National Action Plan on RBC, nor does it maintain a National Contact Point (NCP) for OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The RTG has taken measures through various ministries to encourage RBC through integrated sustainable business practices focused on respecting human rights, environmental protection, labor relations, and financial accountability.

The Ministry of Industry’s Department of Industrial Works encourages the private sector to implement their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR-DIW) standards to pave the way to meet ISO 26000 standards (an international standard on Social Responsibility), and also signed a memorandum of cooperation to move forward UNPG in 2017. The memorandum was jointly signed by the National Human Rights Committee, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce, Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Bankers Association, the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and the Global Computing Network of Thailand.

There are several local NGOs that promote and monitor RBC and the majority operates freely, but a few face intimidation as a result of their work in monitoring civil rights issues.

In spite of these developments, there continue to be calls from international NGOs for the RTG and Thai companies with transboundary investment to act more on commitments to business and human rights for Thai investments abroad, with recommendations to establish measures to ensure respects for fundamental human rights and to promote investors’ accountability.

Thailand has the legal framework and a range of institutions to counter corruption. The Organic Law on Counter Corruption criminalizes corrupt practices of public officials and corporations, including active and passive bribery of public officials. The anti-corruption laws extend to both family members of officials, and to political parties.

Thai laws include the concept of a ‘jointly interested bidder’ that constitutes a conflict of interest. A jointly interested bidder is a natural or juristic person who has an interest, directly or indirectly, in the business of another natural or juristic person who tenders bids for work for the same project. Thai Procurement Regulations prohibit collusion amongst bidders. If an examination confirms allegations or suspicions of collusion among bidders, the names of those applicants have to be removed from the list of competitors.

In December 2016, Thailand adopted its first national government procurement law, based on the UNCITRAL model laws and the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. The law will apply to all government agencies, local authorities, and state-owned enterprises, and aims to improve transparency. Officials who violate the law will be subject to 1-10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to USD 11,000.

Since 2010, the Thai Institute of Directors (IOD) has built an anti-corruption coalition of Thailand’s largest businesses. Coalition members sign the Collective Action Against Corruption Declaration and pledge to take tangible, measurable steps to proactively reduce corruption-related risks that are verified by third party certification. The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) equipped IOD and its coalition partners with an array of tools for training and collective action, based on examples from CIPE’s programs around the world.

The Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand (ACT) was established in 2011 to pressure the government to create laws that can reduce levels of corruption. ACT has 51 member organizations drawn from the private, public and academic sectors. Their signature program is the “integrity pact.” Drafted by ACT and the Finance Ministry and based on a tool promoted by Transparency International, the pact forbids bribes from signatory members in bidding for government contacts. Member agencies and companies must adhere to strict transparency rules by disclosing bidding information–such as the terms of reference and the cost of the project–easily available to the public.

Thailand is a party to the UN Anti-Corruption Convention, but not the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Thailand’s Witness Protection Act offers protection to witnesses, including NGO’s, who are eligible for special protection measures in anti-corruption cases. Witnesses may request police protection subject to the witness’s consent.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Thailand 96 out of 180 countries in 2017 (1=best; 180=worst). According to some studies, a cultural propensity to forgive bribes as a normal part of doing business and to equate cash payments with finders’ fees or consultants’ charges, coupled with the low salaries of civil servants, encourages officials to accept illegal inducements. U.S. executives with experience in Thailand often advise new-to market companies that it is far easier to avoid corrupt transactions from the beginning than to stop such practices once a company has been identified as willing to operate in this fashion. American firms that comply with the strict guidelines of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) are able to compete successfully in Thailand. U.S. businessmen say that publicly affirming the need to comply with the FCPA helps to shield their companies from pressure to pay bribes.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

International Affairs Strategy Specialist
Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission
361 Nonthaburi Road, Thasaai District, Amphur Muang Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand
Tel: +662-528-4800
Email: TACC@nacc.go.th

Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Dr. Mana Nimitmongkol
Secretary General
Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand
44 Srijulsup Tower, 16th floor, Phatumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +662-613-8863
Email: mana2020@yahoo.com

Since the May 2014 military coup, incidents of political violence have decreased. The coup followed seven months of anti-government protests and sporadic incidents of violence. Despite government efforts to promote political reconciliation, stark political divisions remain, as do continued restrictions on freedoms of assembly and speech. The deeply rooted political rifts, together with ongoing concerns about a slowing economy and delays in a return to elected government, could at some point potentially again lead to the reemergence of public protests and/or violence.

Violence related to an ongoing Malay-Muslim insurgency in Thailand’s southernmost provinces continues. Efforts to end the ethno-nationalist insurgency, which, since 2004, has claimed almost 7,000 lives and caused over 12,000 mostly civilian injuries, have so far been unsuccessful. The government is currently engaged in peace talks with an insurgent umbrella group, but the principal insurgent faction refuses to participate. Almost all attacks have occurred in the three southernmost provinces of the country.

In 2017, Thailand’s formal labor force was 38.1 million, or more than 57 percent of the population. Reported unemployment rates are well below full employment, at 1.2 percent overall. Unemployment among youth (15-24 years old) is around 5.3 percent, while it is only 0.5 percent for adults over 25 years old. Well over half the labor force (55.6 percent) earns income in the informal sector, including through self-employment and family labor. However, the proportion of workers in the informal sector has gradually declined, from 62 percent as of 2013, as Thailand experienced a structural transformation from a low productivity agricultural economy to a higher productivity manufacturing and service oriented economy. Low fertility rates and an aging population contribute to projections that population growth will become negative by 2025. This demographic shift, combined with inadequate social welfare programs for elder care, is exacerbating labor shortages in many sectors, especially among low-skilled working aged women.

Manufacturing firms in Thailand consider the lack of skilled workers a top constraint for further investment and growth in Thailand. However, as the second-largest economy in ASEAN, Thailand has an agile business sector and a large cohort of educated individuals who could increase productivity in the future. Despite the advent of 15 years of universal, free education, Thailand continues to suffer from a skills mismatch that is impeding innovation and economic growth.

This labor shortage is among the chief factors that has attracted 2.5 million officially registered migrant workers to Thailand, plus an estimated 2.0 million more undocumented migrant workers. The majority of migrant workers are from Burma, Cambodia, and Lao PDR. In 2017, flows of documented migrant workers entered the country through formal work agreement, or “MOU”, channels increased from 14 to 30 percent of documented foreign workers. However, about two-third of registered migrant workers in Thailand originally entered the country through unauthorized channels, often without any primary identity documents (passport or identification card) from their countries of origin. Undocumented migrant workers in Thailand remain vulnerable to intimidation, threats, and being cheated by employers, brokers, labor traffickers, and corrupt officials. In 2017, Thai government sought to strengthen penalties against the use of child labor and improperly documented foreign workers. Additional information on migrant workers issues and rights can be found in the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report, as well as the Labor Rights section of the U.S. Human Rights report.

Companies receiving Board of Investment privileges for manufacturing may not hire non-Thai workers.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) provides debt financing, political risk insurance, and private equity capital to support U.S. investors and their investments. It does so under a bilateral agreement with Thailand. OPIC can provide debt financing, in the form of direct loans and loan guarantees, of up to USD 350 million per project for business investments with U.S. private sector participation, covering sectors as diverse as tourism, transportation, manufacturing, franchising, power, infrastructure, and others. OPIC political risk insurance for currency inconvertibility, expropriation, and political violence for U.S. investments including equity, loans and loan guarantees, technical assistance, leases, and consigned inventory or equipment is also available for business investments in Thailand. In addition, OPIC supports five private equity funds that are eligible to invest in projects in Thailand. In all cases OPIC support is available only where sufficient or appropriate investment support is unavailable from local or other private sector financial institutions.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD ) 2017 USD 455,238 2016 USD 407,026 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in Partner Country (M USD , stock positions) 2017 USD 16,553 2016 USD 11,774 BEA data available at
Host Country’s FDI in the United States (M USD , stock positions) 2017 USD 7,617 2016 USD 4,058 BEA data available at
Total Inbound Stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A 2016 0.8% World Bank data available at

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 191,142 100% Total Outward 86,196 100%
Japan 70,717 37.0% China, P.R.: Hong Kong 10,829 12.6%
Singapore 27,527 14.4% Cayman Islands 8,966 10.4%
United States 14,006 7.3% Singapore 7,052 8.2%
China, P.R.: Hong Kong 11,011 5.8% Mauritius 6,859 8.0%
Netherlands 10,739 5.6% British Virgin Islands 4360 5.1%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries 46,959 100% All Countries 21,664 100% All Countries 25,294 100%
United States 6,607 14% Luxembourg 5,692 26% Japan 4,057 16%
Luxembourg 6,202 13% United States 5,121 24% China, P.R.: Mainland 2,756 11%
Japan 4,555 10% Ireland 4,116 19% China, P.R.: Hong Kong 2,120 8%
Ireland 4,260 9% China, P.R.: Hong Kong 1,425 7% UAE 2,026 8%
China, P.R.: Hong Kong 3,545 8% Singapore 1,154 5% Qatar 1,587 6%

The Thai government does not publish comparable data. Sources of portfolio investment are not tax havens.

U.S. Embassy Bangkok
Economic Section

2018 Investment Climate Statements: Thailand
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