Thailand is generally seen as a well established member of the international community. While it has been under considerable internal political strife as a result of the latest military coup in 2014, Thailand is a member in good standing in the United Nations, ASEAN, WTO and APEC.
Thailand also has a history of strong ties to the USA, Japan, Australia, India and China as well as many other Asian countries.
Foreigners traveling into Thailand will find the process relatively easy and straight forward. Most western countries and members of the EU can enter Thailand without a visa for 30 days. Longer stays require a work permit, which are often offered as part of incentive packages topotential investors in the manufacturing sector.
Thailand has a well-structured judiciary system and is a signatory to the Geneva Protocol as well as the New York Convention, meaning that foreign arbitration awards are recognised and enforced by the Thai court system.
Thai monetary policy is regulated by the government through the Ministry of Finance, which handles such items as taxation and currency. The Bank of Thailand is an independent body that oversees the banking industry and works towards the goal of maintaining monetary stability.
Foreigners may open commercial or personal accounts in Thai banks if they have a valid work permit or can show that their business is registered with the Ministry of Commerce. Loans can be made to foreign individuals or businesses by Thai banks, but are subject to the requirements of the individual banks.
Intellectual property is protected by a set of Thai laws, including patent, copyright and trademark acts. Trade secrets are protected without the need to register each secret. As a member of the WTO, Thailand complies with trade secret and intellectual property requirements of that organisation as well. Franchising, licensing, and distributor agreements between foreign owned companies and their Thai counterparts are common and the agreements are enforceable within the Thai court system.
Foreign businesses will generally find Thailand to be a safe place to do business. The Thai government encourages foreign investment and business activity through the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) and other government sponsored organizations. Labour rates are stable and relatively low while the work force benefits from a well developed primary and secondary education system.
In our next segment on doing business in Thailand, we will describe Thailand’s investment policies that are designed to encourage foreign manufacturing investment within the country through multiple tax incentives and user friendly import/export regulations.