When you’re going to invest industries in a foreign country such as Thailand, you will want to make sure that you’re not coming into conflict with the law. Wherever you may be, having a brush with the law is a totally undesirable experience and can materially affect your finances, as well as your reputation.
Thus, it’s best to know which industries in which you are not allowed to invest your money in Thailand. These restrictions are all laid out in Thailand’s Foreign Business Act of 1999.
Industries Related to Religion
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country. Thus, the manufacturing of Buddha images is kind of a revered craft in the Kingdom. Thus, Thai law states that foreigners are completely disallowed from competing with locals in this industry as alien participants in the business can damage local traditions and customs.
For the same reason, foreigners are also not allowed to deal in authentic Thai antiques – whether they are artifacts, furniture and others.
The local media is another industry that’s totally closed and inaccessible to foreign investment. This restriction serves to protect national security and to prevent foreign interests from influencing the output of newspapers, radio stations, TV networks and other forms of publishing and broadcasting.
With the exception of condominiums, foreigners are barred from making investments in real estate. Only locals are allowed to purchase land, whether residential or commercial, under their own names. Foreigners could, however, own land provided that they are given a permit by the Board of Investments but, even then, they have to satisfy special requirements.
They could purchase condominiums, but only if the allocated number of units for foreign ownership have not been sold out by the property. Under the law, projects can only have 40% of their total number of units open for foreign investors.
Firearm and Weapons Production
The production of firearms and weapons is a matter of state security, so, naturally, the Kingdom will want to restrict the involvement of foreign capital into this industry. Foreigners are allowed to inject capital into this industry, but they will have to secure approval from the Minister in the Government Gazette.
Furthermore, foreign owned shares are limited. Just like condominiums, total foreign ownership in a company dealing in national security-related industries is capped at 40%. However, depending on the nature of the actual business, that number can go down to 25%.
Agriculture and Fisheries
These industries are vital to a nation. Agriculture, fisheries and poultry are important sources of sustenance for Thailand, and are major sources of income for locals. For that reason, foreigners are not allowed to create businesses in these industries because they might negatively impact the livelihood of local Thais.
On a related note, foreigners are also disallowed from harvesting herbs that are endemic to Thailand for whatever purposes. This is to protect herbs from being totally industrialized, and from affecting local customs and practices.
These are just a few of the many industries that Thailand’s Foreign Business Act of 1999 has restricted from foreign involvement. You can read the English text of the law here.
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