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Foreign Investment



Foreigners in Thailand derive their legal rights primarily from the domestic laws of Thailand. In general, foreigners enjoy the same basic rights as Thai nationals, but there are some restrictions on ownership in certain sectors, land ownership, and jobs open to foreigners. 
Restrictions on foreign ownership are in place for commercial banks, insurance companies, commercial fishing, aviation businesses, commercial transportation, commodity export, mining, and other enterprises.  In addition, Thai participation may be required in certain circumstances. 

The Foreign Business Act

The primary piece of legislation governing foreign participation in the Thai economy is the Foreign Business Act (FBA), which came into effect in March 2000. The FBA repeals and replaces the 1972 National Executive Council Announcement No. 281 (otherwise known as the Alien Business Law, ABL). As with the Alien Business Law, the businesses noted in the Act are still divided into three categories – now termed List 1, List 2, and List 3. 
However, the business categories in the FBA have been substantially changed from those of the ABL.  Under the FBA, a Foreign Business Board will review the businesses listed at least once a year, and present it to the Commerce Minister.  The Commerce Minister, acting in terms of the recommendations of the Foreign Business Board, is empowered to issue Ministerial Regulations.  The Foreign Business Board will consist of 19 committee members from both government and private agencies.  The latter will include the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Thai Industries. A maximum of five experts can also sit on the committee. 
List 1 activities are strictly prohibited to aliens.  List 2 is prohibited to aliens unless permission is granted by the Commerce Minister and with an appropriate Cabinet resolution. Alien juristic entities allowed to engage in the businesses in List 2 must meet the following two conditions: 
• At least 40 percent of all of the shares are held by Thai persons or non-alien juristic entities 
• Two-fifths of the members of the Board of Directors are Thai 
List 3 is prohibited to aliens unless permission is granted by the Director-General of the Department of Commercial Registration, Ministry of Commerce, and with the approval of the Foreign Business Board. 
An alien can engage in businesses in List 2 and/or List 3 if he is a promoted investor in accordance with the Investment Promotion Act, Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act, or other laws. 
Major features of the Foreign Business Act 

Definition of "Alien": 
1. A natural person who is not of Thai nationality; 
2. A juristic entity which is not registered in Thailand; 
3. A juristic entity incorporated in Thailand with foreign shareholding accounting for one-half or more of the total number or value of shares; 
4. A limited partnership or registered ordinary partnership whose managing partner or manager is a foreigner. 

Shareholding limit in other business:   

Minimum capital: 
The minimum capital is three million baht for businesses listed in the FBA and two million baht for businesses not listed in the FBA.  However, the minimum capital requirement shall not be imposed in cases of re-investment. 
List of business activities in the FBA: 
List 1 
• Business that aliens are not permitted to do for special reasons: 
• Newspaper undertakings and radio and television station undertakings 
• Lowland farming/upland farming, or horticulture 
• Raising animals 
• Forestry and timber conversions from natural forests 
• Fishing for aquatic animals in Thai waters and Thailand’s exclusive economic zones 
• Extraction of Thai medical herbs 
• Trade in and auctioning of Thai ancient objects or ancient objects of national historical value
• Making or casting Buddha images and making monk’s bowls 
• Dealing in land 
List 2 
• Businesses concerning national security or safety with an adverse effect on art and culture, customs or native manufacture/handicrafts, or with an impact on natural resources and the environment. 
• Businesses concerning national security or safety 
• Production, disposal (sale) and overhaul of: 
• Fire arms, ammunition gunpowder, and explosives 
• Components of fire arms, gunpowder, and explosives 
• Armaments, and military vessels, aircraft, or conveyances 
• All kinds of war equipment or their components 
• Domestic transport by land, water or air inclusive of the undertaking of domestic aviation 
• Businesses with an adverse effect on art and culture, customs or native manufacture/handicrafts
• Dealing in antiques or objects of art and works of art, and Thai handicrafts 
• Production of wood carvings 
• Raising silkworms, producing Thai silk thread and weaving or printing patterns on Thai silk textiles 
• Production of Thai musical instruments 
• Production of articles of gold or silver, nickel-bronze ware, or lacquerware 
• Production of crockery and terra cotta ware that is Thai art or culture 
• Businesses concerning natural resources and the environment 
• Production of sugar from sugarcane 
• Salt farming, inclusive of making salt from salty earth 
• Making rock salt 
• Mining, inclusive of stone blasting or crushing 
• Timber conversions to make furniture and articles of wood 
List 3 
• Businesses which Thais are not ready to compete in undertakings with aliens 
• Rice milling and production of flour from rice and farm crops 
• Fishery, limited to propagation of aquatic animals 
• Forestry from replanted forests 
• Production of plywood, wood veneer, chipboard or hardboard 
• Production of natural lime 
• Accounting service undertakings 
• Legal service undertakings 
• Architectural service undertakings 
• Engineering service undertakings 
• Construction (although there are a few exceptions) 
• Brokerage or agency undertakings (although there are several exceptions, in particular trading in securities or services concerning futures trading in agricultural commodities, financial instruments or securities) 
• Advertising undertakings 
• Hotel undertakings, except for hotel management services 
• Sale of food or beverages 
• Plant breeding and propagating, or plant improvement undertakings 
• Doing other service businesses except for service businesses prescribed in ministerial regulations 

Types of business organization

(i) Sole proprietorships 
A sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person with unlimited liability. A proprietor’s business and personal assets are subject to attachment and other forms of legal action. Foreigners, unless covered under the United States-Thailand Treaty on Amity and Economic Co-operation, are not permitted to operate sole proprietorships. 
(ii) Partnerships 
Thailand acknowledges three general types of partnerships. The main difference between them is the degree of liability of the partners under each type of organization.  Partnerships are not promoted by the Board of Investment, and thus are rarely used by foreign investors in Thailand.  The three types are: 
• Unregistered ordinary partnerships, in which all partners are jointly and wholly liable for all obligations of the partnership 
• Registered ordinary partnerships. If registered, the partnership becomes a legal entity, separate and distinct from the individual partners 
• Limited partnerships. Individual partner liability is restricted to the amount of capital contributed to the partnership.  Limited partnerships must be registered.  
(iii) Limited companies 
There are two types of limited companies – private or closely held companies, and public companies. The first type is governed by the Civil and Commercial Code, the second by the Public Company Act. 
(iv) Private limited companies 
In Thailand, they are similar to those of Western corporations, and are the most popular vehicle used to establish a permanent business in Thailand.  Although there is no established minimum level of capitalization, the private limited company’s capital must be sufficient to accomplish its objectives. All of the shares must be subscribed to, and at least 25 percent of the subscribed shares must be paid up.  It should also be noted that private limited companies are required to have capitalization of two million baht, fully paid up, per each work permit the company desires. 
A minimum of seven shareholders is required at all times.  A private limited company may be wholly-owned by aliens. However, in those activities reserved for Thai nationals, aliens’ participation is generally allowed up to 49 percent. Meetings of shareholders and directors must conform to the requirements set forth in the Civil and Commercial Code and/or the Articles of Association of the company.
 (v) Public limited companies 
Such companies registered in Thailand may, subject to the compliance with the prospectus, approval, and other requirements, offer shares, debentures and warrants to the public and may apply to have their securities listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). 
A public limited company must: 
• Have a minimum of 15 promoters for the formation and registration of the Memorandum of Association 
• Have not less than half of the promoters domiciled in Thailand 
• Have the promoters’ subscribed shares, which will be paid up in money, equal to not less than 0.05 percent of the registered capital. These prescribed shares cannot be transferred within two years of the date of registration of the company, except with the consent of a general meeting of shareholders 
• Have a statutory meeting within two months from the date when the shares have been fully subscribed, as specified in the prospectus, but not more than six months from the date of approval of the memorandum by the registrar 
• Have a minimum of five directors, at least half of whom must be domiciled in Thailand 
• Ensure that the directors are 20 years of age or older, and they must have clean legal records 
• Have subscribers pay the full amount of each share 
• Not stipulate any provisions that would prevent shareholders from becoming directors of the company 
• Hold a meeting of the Board of Directors at least once every three months where a directors' certificate must be obtained and the minutes must be recorded 
• Have an auditor present at all times when the balance sheet is submitted for adoption by general meeting of the shareholders
(vi) Joint ventures 
There are various forms of joint ventures permitted in Thailand. 

a. Incorporated joint ventures 
A Thai private limited company that is owned by two or more companies or groups of shareholders is often referred to as a joint venture (although there is no language governing incorporated joint ventures in Thailand’s legal code). There are no specific restrictions on joint ventures, except that companies that are majority foreign-owned are treated as “foreign.” Joint ventures that receive promotional incentives from the BOI can be exempted from restrictions that would be imposed on a “foreign” venture. 

b. Unincorporated joint ventures 
The partners have joint liability to third parties dealing with the joint venture. A foreign company which participates in an unincorporated joint venture is required to obtain an Alien Business Permit and create a branch office in Thailand to engage in business as a partner of the joint venture.  Such foreign partners do not need to register for their own taxpayer identification card, because merely acting as a partner is not considered “doing business.” However, the joint venture itself must register.  

c. BOI joint venture criteria 
For investment projects in agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, mineral exploration and mining, or service sectors, Thai nationals must hold no less than 51 percent of the registered capital.  However, for projects with investment of over one billion baht, foreigners may initially hold the majority or all of the shares, but Thai nationals must acquire at least 51 percent of the shares within five years of operation. 
For manufacturing activities, majority or total foreign ownership of projects is permitted, and there is no foreign export requirement for any project.  Existing projects that were subjected to export requirements as a result of previous joint venture criteria may request the removal of the export requirement from their investment promotion certificate. 

d. Other types of collaborative ventures 
• Agency/distribution agreements 
• Licensing agreements 
• Manufacturing agreements 

(vii) Other types of corporate presence 
There are three types of offices that may be set up by a foreign or multinational company in Thailand – representative, regional, and branch. 

a. Branches 
There is no special requirement for foreign companies to register their branches in order to do business in Thailand.  However, most business activities fall within the scope of one or more laws or regulations, which require special registration, either before or after the commencement of activities. Foreign business establishments must, therefore, follow generally acceptable procedures.  It is important to clarify beforehand what constitutes income subject to Thai tax because the Revenue Department may consider revenues directly earned by the foreign head office from sources within Thailand as subject to Thai taxes. 
As a condition for approval of an Alien Business License to a branch of a foreign corporation, working capital amounting to a total of five million baht in foreign exchange must be brought into Thailand within certain intervals over a five-year period. 

b. Representative offices 
Trading representative offices may carry out the following activities: 
• Finding suppliers of goods or services in Thailand for the overseas head office 
• Checking and controlling the quality and quantity of goods purchased or hired by the head office for manufacturing purposes in Thailand 
• Providing advice on various aspects of goods sold by its head office to agents, distributors and/or customers in Thailand 
• Providing information to interested persons in Thailand concerning goods or services of the head office; and 
• Reporting to the head office on movements of business in Thailand 
The definition of a representative office excludes regional offices and other business-related trading activities. A representative office in Thailand is considered a liaison office and may not engage in any profit-seeking or profit-making enterprise.  Representative offices do not generate income and therefore pay no tax.  

c. Regional offices 
A regional office is allowed to coordinate and supervise the company’s branches and its affiliated companies in the region on behalf of the head office.  Companies establishing regional offices are not required to register or incorporate as juristic persons in Thailand, and do not have to submit any financial statements to the Department of Commercial Registration.   However, a regional office must not: 
• Derive any income from its activities. Expenditures incurred by the regional office shall be borne by the head office 
• Have the power to accept a purchase order or make a sales offer 
• Negotiate or enter into business arrangements with any natural or juristic person within the Kingdom 

Investment incentives and performance requirements

In August 2000, the Board of Investment replaced its 1993 Announcement No. 1/2536 Re: Policies and Criteria for Investment Promotion with a new set of policies.  The major new policies are as follows: 
• Tax privileges shall be granted to projects that actually benefit the economy, and good governance shall be used for managing and supervising the application of tax and duty privileges.  Promoted entities shall report the operating results of their promoted projects to the BOI for review prior to the application of tax and duty privileges for that year 
• Every promoted project that has investment capital of 10 million baht or more (excluding land and working capital) must obtain ISO 9000 certification or similar international certification 
• Previous conditions on exports and use of local material are repealed so that the criteria for promotion will be in line with international trade and investment agreements 
• Special promotion shall be given to regions or areas with low income and inadequate investment facilities.  Maximum tax and duty privileges shall be given to these regions or areas 
• Importance is given to small and medium industries by applying a minimum level of investment capital of one million baht (excluding cost of land and working capital) for projects eligible for promotion 
• Agriculture and agricultural products 
• Direct involvement in technological and human resource development 
• Public utilities and infrastructure 
• Environmental protection and conservation 
• Targeted industries 
The BOI also announced that it places priority on promoting the follow types of projects: These projects are entitled to certain privileges.  First, they are exempt from import duty on machinery regardless of where they are located.  Second, the projects receive a corporate income tax exemption for eight years regardless of location.  Third, they receive all other privileges entitled in each Zone. 
(i) Investment zones 
Under the new policies in August 2000, BOI made slight modifications to the three investment zones.   

Zone 1: Six central provinces with high income and good infrastructure: Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, and Nakhon Pathom. 
Tax and duty privileges in Zone 1 include: 
• 50 percent reduction of import duty on machinery that is subject to import duty of not less than 10 percent 
• Corporate income tax exemption for three years for projects within industrial estates or promoted industrial zones, provided that the project has a capital investment of 10 million baht or more and obtains ISO 9000 (or similar international certification) within two years of start-up date.  Otherwise, the corporate income tax exemption will be reduced by one year 
• Exemption of import duty on raw or essential materials used in the manufacturing of export products for one year 

Zone 2: 12 provinces: Kanchanaburi, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Nakhon Nayok, Ayutthaya, Phuket, Rayong, Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Saraburi, Suphanburi, and Ang Thong. 
Tax and duty privileges in Zone 2 include: 
• 50 percent reduction of import duty on machinery that is subject to import duty of not less than 10 percent. 
• Corporate income tax exemption for three years, increased to five years for projects within industrial estates or promoted industrial zones, provided that the project has a capital investment of 10 million baht or more and obtains ISO 9000 (or similar international certification) within two years of start-up date.  Otherwise, the corporate income tax exemption will be reduced by one year. 
• Exemption of import duty on raw or essential materials used in the manufacturing of export products for one year. 

Zone 3: The remaining 58 provinces with low income and less developed infrastructure. 
Tax and duty privileges in Zone 3 include: 
• Exemption of import duty on machinery 
• Corporate income tax exemption for eight years provided that the project has a capital investment of 10 million baht or more and obtains ISO 9000 (or similar international certification) within two years of start-up date.  Otherwise, the corporate income tax exemption will be reduced by one year 
• Exemption of import duty on raw or essential materials used in the manufacturing of export products for five years 
• Projects in a selected list of 40 of the 58 provinces in Zone 3 receive the above privileges but also additional ones such as: 
• Projects located within industrial estates or promoted industrial zones are entitled to a 50 percent reduction of corporate income tax for five years after the exemption period, and also double deduction from taxable income of transportation, electricity, and water costs for 10 years from the date of first revenue derived from promoted activity 
• For projects located outside industrial estates or promoted industrial zones, a deduction can be made from net profit of 25 percent of the project's infrastructure installation or construction cost for 10 years from the date of first sales, and net profit for one or more years of any year can be chosen for such deduction  
• Projects in the remaining 18 provinces of Zone 3 receive additional privileges such as: 
• 50 percent reduction of corporate income tax for five years after the exemption period 
• Double deduction from taxable income of transportation, electricity, and water costs for 10 years from the date of first revenue derived from promoted activity 
• Deduction can be made from net profit of 25 percent of the project's infrastructure installation or construction cost for 10 years from the date of first sales, and net profit for one or more years of any year can be chosen for such deduction 
(ii) Additional incentives 
The BOI also grants special tax and non-tax incentives to projects submitted prior to the new policies of August 2000 that relocate from Zone 1 to Zone 2, or from Zone 1 or 2 to Zone 3. However, certain conditions apply such as moving into an industrial estate or promoted industrial zone, be included in the List of Activities Eligible for Promotion, and other criteria.  


The Revenue Code outlines regulations for the imposition of taxes on income, with income tax divided into three categories: corporate income tax, value added taxes (or specific business taxes), and personal income tax. 
(i) Corporate income tax  
Incorporated firms operating in Thailand pay income tax at a rate of 30 percent of net profits. Foundations and Associations pay income taxes at a rate of two to 10 percent of gross business income, depending upon the activity.  International transport companies face a rate of three percent of gross ticket receipts and three percent of gross freight charges. 
Normal business expenses and depreciation allowances, at rates ranging from five to 100 percent, depending on the item, or at rates under any other acceptable depreciation method, are allowed as deductions from gross income.  Inventory must be valued at cost or at market price, whichever is lower.  Net losses can be carried forward for up to five consecutive years. Interest payments on some foreign loans may be exempt from a firm’s income tax. 
Depreciation of assets of limited companies and partnerships is based on cost.  The rates of annual depreciation permitted by the law generally vary from five to 20 years. 
Entertainment and representation expenses are deductible up to maximum limits as a percentage of gross sales, or of paid-up capital at the closing date of the accounting period, whichever is greater. 
Taxes are due on a semi-annual basis within 150 days of the close of a six-month accounting period, and employers are required to withhold personal income tax from their employees. Except for newly-incorporated companies, an accounting period is defined as a duration of 12 months.  Returns must be accompanied by audited financial statements. 
(ii) Value added tax 
Value added at every stage of the production process is subject to a seven percent tax rate. Those who are affected by this tax are producers, providers of services, wholesalers, retailers, exporters and importers. VAT must be paid on a monthly basis. 
Operators whose gross earnings from the domestic sale of goods and services exceed 600,000 baht but are less than 1,200,000 baht per year can choose between paying a gross turnover tax of 1.5 percent or the normal VAT.  However, operators paying the gross turnover tax may not offset this tax by charging VAT to their customers in any step of production. 
Special exemptions from VAT: 
• Operators earning less than 600,000 baht a year 
• Sale or import of agricultural products, livestock, and agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, and feed 
• Sale or import of published materials and books 
• Auditing, legal services, health services and other professional services 
• Cultural and religious services 
• Educational services 
• Services provided by employees under employment contracts 
• The sale of goods as specified by Royal Decree 
• Goods exempt from import duties under the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act 
• Domestic transport (excluding airlines) and international transport (excluding air and sea lines) 
(iii) Specific business tax (SBT) 
A specific business tax of between 2.5 and 3 percent is imposed, in lieu of VAT, on the following businesses: 
• Commercial banks and similar businesses 
• Insurance companies 
• Financial securities firms and credit financiers 
• Sales on the stock exchange 
•  Sales of non-movable properties 
(iv) Remittance tax 
Remittance tax applies only to profits transferred or deemed transferred from a Thailand branch to its head office overseas.  It is levied at the rate of 10 percent of the amount to be remitted before tax, and must be paid by the remitting office of the offshore company within seven days of the date of remittance. 
However, outward remittances for the purchase of goods, certain business expenses, principal on loans to different entities and returns on capital investment, are not subject to an outward remittance tax. The tax does not apply to dividends or interest payments remitted out of Thailand by a company or partnership; these are taxed at the time of payment.  
(v) Personal income tax 

Personal income tax is applied on a graduated scale as follows: 

Net annual income (in baht) Tax rate
0-100,000 5%
100,001-500,000 10%
500,001-1,000,000 20%
1,000,001-4,000,000 30%
>4,000,001 37%

Individuals residing for 180 days or more in Thailand for any calendar year are also subject to income tax on income from foreign sources if that income is brought into Thailand during the same taxable year that they are a resident. 
(vi) Other taxes 
Other taxes include the Petroleum Income Tax, Stamp Tax, Excise Tax, and Property Tax. 

Labour issues

In August 1998, the Labour Protection Act (1998) went into effect.  It applies to all businesses with at least one employee.  The features of the legislation are: 
Work hours and holidays: The maximum number of hours for non-hazardous work is eight hours a day or 48 hours a week in total.  Hazardous work may not exceed seven hours a day, or 42 hours per week. Employees are entitled to no fewer than 13 national holidays a year, and a minimum of six days of annual vacation after working consecutively for one full year. A female employee is entitled to maternity leave for a period of 90 days including holidays, but paid leave shall not exceed 45 days.  A weekly holiday of at least one day a week at intervals of a six-day period must be arranged by the employer.  The rates for overtime vary and range from 1-1/2 times to three times the normal hourly wage rate for the actual overtime worked.  The maximum number of overtime working hours is limited to not more than 36 hours a week. 
Minimum age: The minimum age for employment is 15 years, and workers below the age of 18 are banned from dangerous and hazardous jobs. They are also prohibited from working overtime, on holidays, or between the hours of 10 p.m. and six a.m. 
Sick leave: Employees can take as many days of sick leave as necessary, but if an employee takes three months of sick leave, the employer is required to pay only one month’s wages 
Severance pay: Employees who have worked more than 120 days, but less than one year, are entitled to 30 days severance pay. For personnel employed between one and three years, the severance pay is not less than 90 days.  Employees with three to six years of service will 
receive six months salary, those with more than six to 10 years service will receive eight 
months salary, and employees with more than 10 years service will receive 10 months salary. 
Regarding workmen's compensation, the Compensation Act prescribes that an employer must provide the necessary compensation benefits for employees who suffer injury or illness or  who die as a result or in the performance of their work at the rates prescribed by law. 
Minimum wage depends largely on the location of the workplace. The daily minimum wages  effective January 1, 1998 are: 
162 baht for Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phuket, Samut Prakan 
and Samut Sakhon. 
140 baht for Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phangnga and Ranong. 
130 baht for all other areas. 
The Social Security Act requires that all employers with 10 or more employees withhold  social security contributions from the monthly wages of each employee.  The prescribed rates  to the monthly wages are:
From Jan. 1, 1999 to Dec. 31, 1999: two percent 
From Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec 31, 2000: three percent 
From Jan 1, 2001 onwards: 4.5 percent 
The maximum monthly wage base on which the rates are applied must not exceed 15,000 
baht. The employer is required to match the contribution from the employee. Both 
contributions must be remitted to the Social Security Office within the 15th day of the
following month. 


Non-Thai businesses and citizens are not permitted to own land in Thailand unless given permission by the Board of Investment, or unless the land is on government-approved industrial estates. Petroleum concessionaires may own land necessary for their activities. Many foreign businesses instead sign long-term leases and then construct buildings on the leased land.  
On August 4, 1998, the Cabinet approved the amendments of Land Code and Condominium Act to eliminate restrictions on foreign ownership of property. The amendments are: 
• Allow individual foreign investors investing specified amounts (in the region of 40 million baht) in activities of productive interest for Thailand to own up to one rai [400 square meters] of residential land. The land must be in Bangkok, Pattaya or other residential areas as provided for by law 
• Allow Thai citizens married to foreigners to own land 
• Permit foreigners to purchase 100 percent of condominium buildings of five rai or less during the next five years. The previous ceiling on ownership in a condominium building had been 40 percent 
• Amend the lease provisions of the Civil and Commercial Code to provide personal rights pertaining to real estate property instead of real rights, and the period of lease of selected real estate property has been limited to no less than 15 years but no more than 30 years, and may be renewable for an additional 30 years 

Intellectual property rights

Thailand recognizes three broad categories of property rights: patents, copyrights, and trademarks. 
(i) Patents 
Thailand promulgated its first patent law, the Patent Act, in 1979, with significant amendments added in 1992.   The Act protects both inventions and product designs and pharmaceuticals.  Thailand has numerous bilateral agreements enabling citizens of other countries to file patent applications in Thailand.  However, Thailand is not a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property or a signatory of any other international conventions for reciprocal protection of patents. 
In December 1997 a new intellectual property and international trade court began operations, which has significantly improved enforcement.  Appeals procedures at the trademark and patent offices have also been streamlined.  
A foreign patent that has not been granted a separate patent in Thailand receives no protection under the Patent Act.  However, foreign patent holders or owners of rights to inventions or designs in foreign countries may enter into business transactions with parties in Thailand and seek equivalent protection through contractual obligations in the form of a licensing agreement. 
(ii) Copyrights 
The Copyright Act of 1994 protects literary, artistic works, and performance rights by making it unlawful to reproduce or publish such works without the owner's permission.  The Copyright Act protects works in the categories of literary work, including computer programmes; dramatic, artistic and musical work; audiovisual material, cinematic film, recorded material; disseminated pictures or disseminated sound; or any other works in the fields of literature, science or fine arts.  The Copyright Act protects computer software against reproduction or adaptation, publicity and rental of such software. Algorithms are not, however, protected. 
(iii) Trademarks 
The Trademark Act of Thailand of 1991 governs registration of and provides protection for trademarks.  The Act defines a trademark as a symbol used in connection with goods for the purpose of indicating that they are the goods of the owner of the trademark.  The trademark must be “distinctive” and not identical or similar to those registered by others, and must not be prohibited by section 8 of the Trademark Act of 1991. 

Trade Regulations

There are various regulations governing the import and export of goods into and out of Thailand. However, trade in certain items is restricted through outright prohibition, the imposition of duties, or licensing requirements.  Thus, the export of unmilled rice and rice bran is expressly prohibited.  Other goods, such as rubber, timber, rice, hides and skins, silk yarn, and iron scrap may be sold to foreign buyers, but duties must be paid on them.  To export certain items, such as gold, cattle, or sugar, one must secure a license from the relevant government authorities. 


The Act Controlling the Importation and Exportation of Goods authorizes the Ministry of Commerce to subject products to export control. At present, close to 50 items are under such control. Certain goods require export licenses under other laws, such as seeds, trees, and leaves of tobacco.  Certain goods, such as sugar and rice, are subject to export licenses under the Export Standard Act, which aims to ensure that such exports are of a set quality. 
In addition, the exporters of agricultural commodities may find that membership to trade associations is mandatory. These associations may in turn impose their own regulations for membership. 


The Ministry of Commerce designates classes of goods that are subject to import controls, which usually take the form of permission and licensing.  Although these controls are being liberalized, at present more than 50 classes of goods require import licenses from the Ministry of Commerce.  These categories frequently change through notifications from the ministry. A license to import any of the specified items must be secured from the Ministry of Commerce.  Application for the license must be accompanied by a supplier’s order, confirmation, invoice, and other pertinent documents. 
In addition to the Act imposing the above controls, a number of goods are subject to import controls under other laws. These include: 
• The import of modern drugs requires prior licensing from the Food and Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health 
• The Minerals Act stipulates that without appropriate permission, an importer is prohibited from importing tungstic oxide and tin ores and metallic tin in quantities exceeding two kilograms 
• The Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museum Act provides that antiques or objects of art, whether registered or not, must not be delivered without permission from the Director General of Fine Arts 
• The Armation, Ammunition, Explosives, Fireworks and Imitation Firearms Act bars people from producing, buying, using, ordering or importing arms or ammunition or explosive devices unless they have the appropriate license from the Ministry of Interior 
• The Cosmetics Act stipulates that for the purpose of protection of public health, any importer of controlled cosmetics must provide the name and location of the office and the place of manufacture or storage of the cosmetics, the name, category, or kind of cosmetics to be imported, and the major components of the cosmetics
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