Integrity Legal

24th May 2009

The US-Thai Treaty of Amity is an agreement between the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America that provides benefits for Thai investors and businessmen in the USA and also provides economic benefits to Americans in Thailand. The most important benefit conferred by the Treaty of Amity is the right of Americans to form a Treaty of Amity Company. A Treaty of Amity Company is a corporate structure similar to a Thai limited company.

The major difference between a Thai limited company and an Amity Treaty company is the fact that an Amity Company can be one hundred percent owned by non-Thais provided the owners are American Citizens. Under Thai law there must be at least three shareholders, but one shareholder could virtually own the Amity Company outright by owning 99% of the shares in the company.  

The content written heretofore begs the question: why is American ownership such a big deal? For those unfamiliar with the Thai legal system, a statute known as the foreign business act stipulates that a Thai company must either be majority Thai owned or an application for a foreign business license will be necessary. Foreign business licenses are somewhat difficult to obtain. That being said, the Amity Treaty preceeds the Foreign Business act and its provisions supercede the foreign business act.

A major issue regarding the Treaty is the fact that it only applies to Americans. No other group of foreign nationals is accorded the same level of economic protection as that conferred upon Americans doing business in Thailand under the Thailand Treaty of Amity. As a result, many prospective business owners from nations other than the USA often ask if it is possible to utilize nominee American shareholders in a Thai company in order to meet the technical requirements of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity.

In theory, such a scenario was once possible. However, amendments to the foreign business act have made nominee shareholders expressly illegal. Also, the Foreign Business Office of Thailand has determined that only an American or a Thai is allowed to be the Managing Director of a company with protection under the US-Thai Amity Treaty.  The upshot of both of these rules is that, as a practical and legal matter, only Americans or Thais can own a majority position of a Thai company with Treaty benefits.

For more details about US-Thai Economic Relations please see: Amity Treaty Thailand

(Nothing herein is meant to act as in the place of competent legal advice from a licensed attorney. No Attorney-Client relationship shall be formed between the writer and any reader of this piece.)


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