Integrity Legal

17th January 2010

In recent weeks there has been some speculation about new regulations with regard to Thai work permits. In February of 2010, the Ministry of Labour regulations regarding work permits are to be updated. These updated rules will likely result in more stringent measures with regard to foreign labor in Thailand. Recently, there has been some talk about liberalizing certain sections of the Foreign Business Act (FBA). This Act restricts the type of activities that foreign nationals are allowed to engage in while present in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Under the provisions of the FBA, there are three lists of restricted activities. List 1 is the most restricted and is unlikely to be liberalized anytime in the near future. List 2 is also unlikely to be opened up to foreign participation anytime soon, but this is more likely to happen when compared to list 1. Finally, list 3 lists those activities that are the most likely to be opened up to foreign competition. There have been those in the current government floating the idea of liberalizing list 3, but the upshot of this would be more stringent enforcement of current work permit rules.

This leads us to the point of this post: what will happen to those certified under the US-Thai Amity Treaty? Under the provisions of this Treaty, American Citizens are accorded certain privileges when it comes to operating a business in the Kingdom of Thailand. In most cases, changes to the Foreign Business Act have little impact upon those operating under the Treaty as Treaty companies are accorded “national treatment.” This means that once a company has an Amity Treaty Certificate they are viewed, in the eyes of Thai law, as a Thai company. However, work permit regulations are applied to Thai companies in the same way that they would be applied to foreign companies. Therefore, those operating under a Treaty Certificate must still adhere to relevant Ministry of Labour regulations. Consequently, although the work permit regulations will not effect an Amity Treaty Company per se, they have a collateral impact upon any foreigners working in said company as the provisions of the Treaty only apply to the juristic entity and not to any of the foreign nationals working for that entity.

At this time, the US-Thai Treaty of Amity is still the law of the land in both the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America. There are certain benefits enjoyed by nationals of both countries as Americans are entitled to Treaty of Amity protection when conducting most types of business in Thailand while Thais are granted Treaty Trader visas should they meet the requisite qualifications pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Treaty.


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