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Opportunity Time

There are currently numerous opportunities for foreign businesses in Thailand. A lot of people don’t realise how the Board of Investment can assist firms in the service sector.There are currently numerous opportunities for foreign businesses in Thailand. A lot of people don’t realise how the Board of Investment can assist firms in the service sector.

Opportunities include everything from incentives and exemptions for investment in the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy to support for firms in the services sector. “One of the biggest misunderstandings, as it relates to the BOI, is that we only deal with manufacturing. We have actually covered services for many decades. Around 20 percent of BOI categories are focused on services,” Former BOI Secretary General, Ms Duangjai Asawachintachit, notes. “These play an important role in the BOI scheme and we continue to explore ways to improve this. For example, clinical research is now BOI eligible. More service-focused categories are being constantly added.”

While the organisation’s ability to assist foreign investment from large firms in more traditional industries, such as automotive and electronics, is well known, the BOI’s work extends far beyond it. There is an emphasis on supporting small businesses in both manufacturing and services. “We want to assist smaller businesses and encourage them to look at how and where they may be eligible for BOI support,” Ms Duangjai explains. “The BOI doesn’t only cover large companies or those in large sectors. Our stats show many companies participating in BOI schemes are smaller ones such as software development companies.”

Ms Duangjai adds the BOI is mindful of the rapidly evolving business landscape along with the support foreign startups, SMEs and other low-capital companies need to invest in Thailand. “The BOI’s financial threshold isn’t prohibitive, and we also give special considerations to both SMEs and low-capital companies. We don’t always focus on fixed assets and for some sectors, we can look at minimum hiring expenditures instead,” Ms Duangjai says. “Businesses who aren’t sure how they fit in should talk to us and see where the potential is. The BOI scheme is constantly changing as we look to stay up to date with technology and trends.”

BCG Economy Opportunities

The BOI is working to promote Thailand’s BCG economic model as well. Overseas investment is seen as vital for these efforts to integrate the bioeconomy, circular economy, and green economy (BCG). “Thailand has a lot of bio-diversity and a strong supply chain, but we need to enhance value-added creation and productivity enhancement. The BOI provides support to a wide range of bio-based activities, including a focus on expanding research and development activities and application of technologies,” Ms Duangjai states. “That is why we are promoting smart farming services. We are also offering import duty exemptions on materials needed for research and development.”

As for the circular and green economies, the BOI continues to look at ways it can support and promote these efforts. Ms Duangjai points out incentives have been put into place for those using eco-friendly technologies as an example of what is being done. “Recently, we approved a new measure to incentivise companies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Companies can now apply for tax incentives when looking to do this,” Ms Duangjai details. “For example, a chemical manufacturer that wants to purchase new machinery to reduce emissions output can propose an investment plan to the BOI and receive the incentives directly. Additionally, there is no need to expand capacities as part of this plan.” The adoption of automation and robotics and digitalisation is another area where the BOI been promoting to enhance productivity in Thailand. Attractive incentives are offered to companies wanting to invest in machinery upgrades and systems that enable them to reach the country’s Industry 4.0 status.

Room for Improvement

Even with many foreign investment opportunities available, Ms Duangjai believes that there is always some room for enhancing the ease of doing business in the country. This is something that is very important for the BOI. “People want to invest in places where it is easy and clear to do so. We are constantly looking at ways we can improve,” she says. “We are always looking for feedback from businesses on what can be done better.” Digitisation is vital to improvement efforts. The BOI has launched e-services and is working on digital certificates which will hopefully be launched in 2022. This would not only eliminate the need for paper copies but allow for information to constantly remain up to date. It also continues to explore other processes which could be digitised.

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