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Foreign Investment Regulation
The Alien Business Operations Act BE 2542 (1999) is the principal instrument of regulatory power over foreign business establishment in Thailand.  It repeals all earlier versions of this Act first promulgated in 1972 (& revised in 1978 and 1992).  The Act was introduced originally to restrict participation of non-Thai nationals (“legal Aliens”) in certain types of nationally sensitive business activities.  These activities are mostly related to protection of National Security, Cultural Heritage, the Environment, local merchants and Entrepeneurs and government monopoly infrastructure businesses.  The new law is broadly in line with Thailand's commitments to the World Trade Organization and other multilateral organisations but continues to restrict foreign business activities in certain areas.  Restricted activities are listed in three Annexes to the Act and are subject to change and review.

    Activities listed in Annex 1 are reserved for Thai nationals or Thai juristic entities that are majority-owned (51%) by Thai nationals.  These activities include newspaper publication, radio & television broadcasting, Crop & Livestock Farming, Forestry & Wood product processing, Fishing, Thai herbs extraction, trade or sale of Thai antiques or historic objects, manufacture of Buddha images and alms bowls and finally Trading in Land.

    Annex 2 contains specialized professions and businesses for which foreigners must obtain ministerial licenses with Cabinet endorsement.  Annex two activities are restricted but in proscribed conditions Thai share holding can be reduced to 40% or 25% in special circumstances.  Activities restricted in this Annex include manufacture, sale and maintenance of arms, ammunition and related defence materiel, trade in antiquities, historical artifacts and works of art, silk production and weaving, manufacture of gold, silver, niello, bronze and lacquerware products, Thai style pottery, manufacture of sugar from sugar cane, salt farming and mining, mining including stone blasting and wood processing to make furniture or utensils.

    Annex 3 contains activities which foreign persons or juristic entities must obtain Departmental approval from the Director-General of the Commercial Registration Department.  Activities restricted include rice milling; aquaculture; forest plantations; plywood, chipboard, and veneer manufacture; lime manufacture; Accounting Services business; Architecture Services; Engineering Services; Construction Services - except public infrastructure utilities; Brokerage or Agency - except securities and futures, in the purchase & sale of products necessary for production by affiliated enterprises; Auctioneering, except - in international bidding; Domestic trade in agricultural products; retail sale of goods with a total minimum capital of less than 100 Million Baht or each store less than 20 Million Baht; Wholesale sale of goods with a minimum capital of each store of less than 100 Million Baht; Advertising Services; Hotel services, except management services; Tour Agencies; sale of food or beverages; seed planting & reproduction.

    You should take local legal advice on how this act might effect your contemplated business activities, as regulations are still being promulgated in this area and regular reviews are undertaken.