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Monday, 24 December 2012 11:48

Land Ownership: In General, Non-Thai Businesses And Citizens Are Not Permitted To Own Land In Thailand….. Featured

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…..unless the land is on government-approved industrial estates. Under the 1999 amendment to the Land Code Act, foreigners who invest a minimum of 40 million Baht (approximately US$1.2 million) are permitted to buy up to 1,600 square meters of land for residential use with the permission of the Ministry of Interior. If the required land is not used as a residence within two years from the date of acquisition and registration, the Ministry has the power to dispose of the land. Petroleum concessionaires may own land necessary for their activities.

Rather than purchasing, many foreign businesses instead sign long-term leases, and then construct buildings on the leased land. Under the 1999 Condominium Act, non-Thais were allowed to own up to 100 percent of a condominium building if they purchased the unit between April 28, 1999 and April 28, 2004. Under the newer Condominium Act of 2007, foreign ownership in a condominium building, when added together, must not exceed 49 percent of the total space of all units in the building, except for those purchased between 1999 and 2004.

Privatization: With the aim of encouraging capital inflows and relieving resource constraints in many key sectors of the economy, the previous government of Thaksin Shinawatra eagerly embarked on a privatization program for state-owned economic enterprises and state monopolies. The interim government that followed the September 2006 coup considered privatization too controversial and put these plans on hold. Other than the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT), the Airport Authority of Thailand (later renamed Airports of Thailand (AOT)) and the Mass Communication Organization of Thailand (MCOT), few significant privatizations have occurred. The 1999 State Enterprise Corporatization Act provides the framework for the conversion of state enterprises into stock companies, and corporatization is viewed as an intermediate step toward eventual privatization. (Note: “corporatization” describes the process by which an SOE adjusts its internal structure to resemble a publicly-traded enterprise; “privatization” means that a majority of the SOE’s shares is sold to the public, and “partial privatization” refers to a situation in which less than half a company’s shares are sold to the public.) The current State Enterprise Policy Office under the Ministry of Finance does not have a power to regulate all SOEs, but the Ministry of Finance is in the process of drafting a comprehensive bill to set up a new regulatory and policy body to supervise all SOEs including those with partial privatization.

Investment Climate Statements provide a thorough description of the overseas environments in which U.S. investors must operate. The statements cover general characteristics, such as openness to foreign investment and treatment of foreign investors, as well as details about procedures for licensing and similar administrative matters. The statements are updated each year as Chapter 7 in the Country Commercial Guides, a series to be found by country at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s website: http://www.export.gov/.

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