Business FAQs

Robust economic growth in Thailand has created numerous opportunities for U.S. companies in varying industry sectors, including the following:

  • Automotive
  • Aviation
  • Defense and Security
  • Education Services
  • Franchise Service
  • Broadcast Industry
  • Telecommunications
  • Medical Devices
  • Personal Care and Beauty Products
  • Food Processing and Packaging Equipment
  • Oil and Gas Equipment and Services
  • Environmental Equipment and Supplies
  • Electrical Power Systems (ELP)

Please visit the U.S. Commercial Service webpage for more information on upcoming events. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s calendar details upcoming conferences and trade missions related to the Thai market. The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council also provide information on upcoming events.

Prior to conducting business in Thailand, Americans should be familiar with the restrictions on foreign businesses in Thailand, especially the Alien Business Law (ABL). Because of the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, American companies operating under the Treaty are exempt from many of the restrictions on foreign investment imposed by ABL; however, being familiar with ABL and other restrictions is important. Also known as the National Executive Announcement No. 281 of 1972, ABL restricts business activity of aliens, or non-Thai residents. “Alien” and “alien business” is defined as a natural person or juristic person without Thai nationality. This includes a business with at least one-half of the registered capital held by aliens. The three categories of restrictions are as follows:

  • Category A is completely closed to foreigners (with a few exceptions) doing business in certain sectors, most notably accounting, law and architecture.
  • Category B is closed to foreigners unless promoted by the Board of Investment. Category B sectors include fishing, printing, tour agencies and other businesses.
  • Category C requires an Alien Business License for retail, wholesale and other businesses. A complete list of restricted industries can be obtained upon request.

While exempt from many of these regulations, American businesses are restricted from doing the following:

  •   Owning land
  • Engaging in the business of inland communication
  • Engaging in inland transportation and communication industries
  • Engaging in fiduciary functions
  • Engaging in banking involving depository functions
  • Engaging in domestic trade in indigenous agricultural products
  • Exploiting land or other natural resources

For more information about Thailand government regulations, please click here.

The Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand was signed on May 29, 1966 and secured two major trade advantages for the U.S.

The Treaty permits American companies to maintain a majority shareholding or to wholly own its company, branch office or representative office located in Thailand.

American companies receive national treatment, meaning U.S. firms may engage in business on the same basis as Thai companies, and are exempt from most of the restrictions on foreign investment imposed by the Alien Business Law of 1972.

For more information on registering an American company for Treaty of Amity benefits, click here.

Thailand is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 1992, leaders of ASEAN governments approved a Thai proposal to establish the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), which aimed to reduce tariffs on most processed agricultural and industrial products traded among ASEAN countries. Most scheduled tariff reductions will be in place by 2015. ASEAN is examining the possibility of expanding this special trade relationship with Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, India and Japan.

Thailand has signed a limited bilateral free trade agreement with China and has a partial agreement with India. Thailand implemented an FTA with Australia on January 1, 2005 and New Zealand on July 1, 2005. Thailand has completed FTA negotiations with Japan and the agreement was signed in 2007. As of December 31, 2011, Thailand has a partial agreement with Peru.

A recent list of Thailand’s trade agreements can be found in the World Trade Organization’s Trade Policy Review 2011 Chapter II. Trade Policy Regime: Framework and Objectives.