Hosted by the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), the “ Thailand investment Year – What’s New? ” seminar was carried out with success on 4 March 2019. The event featured keynote speakers and panelists including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the ministers and executives from five key government agencies which included the BOI, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, and Ministry of Industry. Attended by more than 2,000 business people, the event provides a comprehensive outlook of government policies and Thailand’s investment scheme in 2019 and beyond.
In the opening session, H.E. General Prayut Chan-ocha, Prime Minister, reaffirmed the country’s direction in enhancing its economic competencies through the 20-year National Strategic Plan. The Prime Minister firmly believes that Thailand investment will continue to be the main economic driver and the government will fully support such growth through three umbrella concepts. First, through “Learning from the Past for Future Development”, Thailand will pay attention to the roots of its economy, culture, and society in order to ensure they are fully ntegrated with technology and innovation to accommodate modern socioeconomic contexts. Second, “Adjusting the Present” will be achieved through government investments in infrastructure development in all dimensions in order to prepare for enhancing the capacity of industrial and service development on the global stage. Lastly, “Creating the New Future” will see Thailand actively supporting its local entrepreneurs and younger generation through promotions aimed at facilitating the adaptability and competencies of the business model in a disruptive market.
In addition to the Prime Minister’s overview of Thailand’s economic policy, the Deputy Prime Minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, also highlighted the continued robustness of the country’s economic situation. He revealed that the country registered 4.1% GDP growth in 2018 with low inflation of only 1%, while there was also an increase in spending from both the government and the private sector in the previous year. The growing tourism industry is reported to have contritbuted to alomost 20% of the country’s GDP in 2018, while Thailand is also reported by the World Bank and Bloomberg to have performed well in its economic progress. The Deputy Prime Minister also mentioned Thailand’s strategic location amidst the rapidly changing global geopolitics landscape. On the one hand, China is implementing its policy known as the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) linking China to Central and South Asia and onward to Europe. In addition, the Greater Bay Area (GBA), which covers Hong Kong, Macao, Guangdong, and Shenzhen, is also another development priority of China. Both of these developments put Thailand in a geographically strategic location as a gateway to the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) and the wider ASEAN region. On the other hand, the U.S. is now launching its new approach to Asia known as the Indo Pacific strategy, which places ASEAN and Thailand at its center. Meanwhile, Thailand is also currently in the process of considering whether to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, with the Deputy Prime Minister also advising that the country should be able to join the agreement after the general election. Taking these new geopolitical developments into account, the Deputy Prime Minister foresees continued growth in Thailand’s economy, which he firmly believes will see the country becoming a “Safe Heaven of Asia” for foreign investors.
Attractive Thailand investment incentives
Another highlight of the event was the unveiling of various new investment promotion measures. With the objective of making 2019 an opportune time for investors, Ms. Duangjai Asawachintachit, Secretary General of Thailand’s Board of Investment, updated the assembled audience and foreign investors with a presentation of the BOI’s new measures in this respect, including Thailand Investment Year, Smart City Development, grassroots economy promotion, and tourism promotion. For Smart City related activities, the BOI offers incentives for activities classified under one of the three following categories: 1. Smart City Development, 2. Smart City System Development, and 3. Smart Industrial Estate or Smart Industrial Zones business. Eligible activities are required to meet the Smart City standards of at least two of the following 7 aspects: 1. Smart Living, 2. Smart People, 3. Smart Governance, 4. Smart Economy, 5. Smart Mobility, 6. Smart Energy, 7. Smart Environment (compulsory). An 8-year Corporate Income Tax (CIT) exemption will be granted for activities that qualify under all seven standards, while activities qualifying in fewer standards will receive a 5-year CIT exemption.
Apart from the launch of the BOI’s new measures for 2019, a new online service under its “BOI Digital Transformation” initiative was also introduced. The service includes a search feature for the BOI’s promotional privileges as well as a function notifying investors of their BOI application status. It is believed that these new measures and services will facilitate investment and attract even higher total investment values than in 2018.