List of Prohibited Activities for Foreign Businesses in Thailand

In Thailand, the Foreign Business Act of 1999 outlines regulations for foreign businesses, dividing activities into three distinct categories.

List 1

Prohibits foreign entities from participating in certain activities such as:

  • Newspaper, radio, TV businesses.
  • Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, fishing in Thai waters.
  • Extracting Thai herbs.
  • Trading in Thai antiques, historical objects.
  • Making Buddha images, alms bowls.
  • Land trading.

List 2

Requires Cabinet approval for foreign businesses in areas impacting national security, arts and culture, and natural resources. This includes:

  • Firearms, ammunition, military equipment manufacturing.
  • Domestic transportation.
  • Trading Thai art, handicrafts.
  • Sugar, salt farming, rock salt mining.
  • Timber processing for furniture.

List 3

Foreign companies must obtain a Foreign Business License for activities in fields where Thai nationals are deemed unready for competition.

  • Rice milling, plant flour production.
  • Aquatic creature breeding.
  • Forestry from replanting.
  • Plywood, veneer, lime production.
  • Accountancy, legal, architecture, engineering services.
  • Specific types of construction, brokerage.
  • Auctioneering, retailing, wholesaling.
  • Advertising, hotel operation, tourism, food service.
  • Plant cultivation.

Exceptions exist for businesses operating under specific treaties or with governmental approval.

The Foreign Business Act of 1999 in Thailand establishes clear boundaries for foreign business operations, categorized into three lists delineating activities that are either prohibited, require Cabinet approval, or necessitate a Foreign Business License. This legal framework ensures the protection of certain sectors deemed sensitive or critical to national interests and cultural heritage. Foreign investors and businesses looking to operate in Thailand must navigate these regulations carefully to comply with local laws and contribute positively to the Thai economy and society.

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