Law reforms necessary to support Thailand’s defence industry: Sutin

MONDAY, MAY 27, 2024

The defence minister points to inconsistencies in tax structure for weapons and weapon parts, saying the local armaments industry can attract big revenue

Several laws need to be amended to help Thailand’s weapons manufacturing industry stay competitive, Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang said on Monday.

Sutin also reckoned that the Thai armed forces will start acquiring locally made weapons from as early as next year.
The defence minister was speaking to reporters after chairing a ceremony at the Defence Ministry to hand over 10 armoured vehicles and 230 pistols made by two Thai companies to Bhutan.

The two private companies made the armoured vehicles and pistols for export in cooperation with the Defence Industry Institute, a public organisation under the Defence Ministry.

Sutin said the institute was also trying to get other countries to purchase weapons from the two Thai firms: Thai Defense Industry Co Ltd and Weapons Manufacturing Industries Co Ltd.

The minister said he has set up a committee to look into how the law can be improved to support the local defence industry. He said the panel has pinpointed several laws that need to be amended, especially those related to importing parts for manufacturing weapons.

Sutin said the tax on importing fully built weapons was far lower than on importing parts. He added that the panel will try to revise the law, and submit amendments to the House within the current parliamentary session.

The panel will also propose a bill that will allow the Defence Technology Institute to work with better mobility and efficiency in supporting Thai defence firms, Sutin added.

He said the current government regarded defence as one of Thailand’s 11 key industries, and believes it should be supported to generate revenue for the country.

Sutin said if Thai companies can make advanced weapons, then the Thai armed forces can buy locally-made weapons, while their exports can also earn a lot of revenue for the country.

He said the Thai military only uses imported weapons, so it may take some time for it to gradually phase them out and replace them with locally made ones. Sutin reckoned the purchase of locally-made weapons could start as early as next year.

He added that the commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces had joined Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on his trip to Paris two weeks ago, and signed a memorandum of understanding with his French counterpart to purchase some weapons from Thailand.

He said the sale will be small, but it’s a good start. The defence minister did not elaborate on the MoU.