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Commerce Ministry to hold auction to study Foreign Business Act amendment

Dec 18. 2016
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THE COMMERCE Ministry’s Business Development Department will next year open bidding for educational and law experts to study ways to amend the Foreign Business Act (FBA).

The department wants to finish the study next year. The move aims to modernise the country’s business laws and promote investment growth amid the seamless market. 

Banjongjitt Angsusingh, director-general of the department, said the FBA should be more flexible, and more effective in regulating firms.

Several past governments had planned to amend this law, which has been in force since 1999, to prevent nominees getting around the restrictions on foreign ownership of Thai businesses while also facilitating more investment in Thailand. However, there has been little progress in the amendment process, partly because of the frequent change of governments. 

Banjongjitt said her department would employ education or law institutes to study the possibility of the FBA amendment, which would cover businesses that should be unlocked and the level of foreign ownership to ensure fair competition for Thai and foreign investors, facilitating more business growth, and preventing nominee problems.

She added that the amended law should make the environment friendlier for foreign investors and streamline business regulations. 

The auction for the study is expected to be completed this year, while the study process is expected to completed by the middle of next year.

In the meantime, the department will continue to unlock the FBA’s Annex III by removing some businesses already regulated by the department.

Previously, many businesses related to banking and insurance were removed from Annex III. The department said it would remove another 17 businesses in the first quarter next year as they had their own specific laws. 

Businesses to be removed include Islamic Bank, telecommunication businesses without their own network, and businesses related to the government’s investment promotion under its Thailand 4.0 policy, which promotes innovation.

In addition, in a move to ensure businesses do not breach the law, the department plans to forge closer ties with other government agencies such as the Tourism Ministry and the Department of Special Investigation in order to investigate nominee cases in which foreign owners employ a Thai to hold a majority share in the firm. The main focus will remain tourism and fruit-trading businesses.

Banjongjitt said that the department would next year broaden and deepen its nominee investigations targeting tourism provinces and cross-border provinces.


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