[The Nation] Thailand will propose the liberalisation of 10 service industries protected under the Foreign Business Act of 1999 to Asean countries at the regional bloc's ministerial summit in August, a Trade Negotiations Department official said. The proposal would be in line with the bloc's commitment to liberalise services under the Asean Free Trade Agreement (Afta).
Foreign shareholdings in businesses in the industries would still be limited to 50 per cent, however.
The 10 industries are: communications, construction, distribution, education, environment, healthcare, tourism, entertainment, culture and sports, and transportation.
Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, director-general of the department, said the proposal would be submitted to the Asean Economic Ministers meeting in Bangkok in August. Service-sector liberalisation has already been ratified in principle by Parliament under Article 190 of the Constitution Act.
"Thailand will propose to liberalise 10 service businesses among Asean countries. However, foreign shareholdings would still be restricted under the FBA," she said.
Liberalising the 10 services would boost investment from other Asean countries, while giving Thai investors greater opportunity to invest in other Asean countries, Nuntawan said. It would also improve the investment environment in Thailand and further the government's policy of promoting investment in particular businesses, she said.
Provisions would remain in place to ensure that Thai enterprises remain competitive, including conditions on the number of foreigners working for the firms, as well as a minimum investment capital requirement for investment in the country, she said.
Thailand seeks asean service-sector liberalisation