BANGKOK – Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday it has no immediate plans to amend the Foreign Business Act, reducing concerns among foreign businesses over a proposal floated last month to restrict their ownership in joint ventures.
“I’m telling you that the government has no any amendment plan of this law, I’m seriously assuring you now,” said Prime Minister and junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.
“Why will the law be amended if it will lead to more problems? Why will there be an amendment that will make you decide not to come and invest here?” he said at a special luncheon for foreign companies.
Gen. Prayuth’s comments sparked applause from some 800 participants of the luncheon, hosted by the Joint Chambers of Commerce of Thailand.
Thailand has attracted growing foreign investment for decades, with the annual foreign direct investment exceeding $10 billion for the first time in 2012, according to the Bank of Thailand.
He left some wiggle room, though, saying he might amend the law to “be better,” without elaborating.
The prime minister’s comments followed the Commerce Ministry in November raising the possibility of preventing foreign directors from controlling joint venture firms that are majority-owned by Thai shareholders. A similar move to restrict foreign control of Thai companies was launched after a military coup in 2006 but didn’t go into effect.
“To be frank, I’m not worried that the government is going to tighten the FBA because it would go against the trends…involving the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] integration.…Operating (foreign) business headquarters are coming to Thailand,” Ferdinand Gyula von der Luehe, director of the Swiss-Thai Chamber of Commerce, said after the speech.