Thailand’s Board of Investments (BOI) has approved a new investment strategy in order to encourage investments both in Thailand and overseas, and to maintain the country’s economic growth. The new strategy includes a combination of non-tax and merit incentives, tax benefits and the removal of zoning restrictions applying to foreign investors. It came into effect in January 2015, and will last for seven years.

“We believe that the release and implementation of the new strategy will have a very positive effect on investors’ decisions, because uncertainty is reduced. In the past two years, the government has repeatedly talked about the new scheme without giving certainty about the activities that will be promoted or a precise timeline,” said Alexander Brell, partner at Thai investment advisory firm Stein Advisors. “We can already see from our clients that many have hesitated to invest in Thailand last year, as they considered waiting for the new scheme to secure higher tax benefits, and now they are ready to invest.”

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Greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets shows that a total of 1950 FDI projects were recorded in Thailand between January 2003 and December 2014. These projects represent total capital investment of $54.37bn, which is an average investment of $58.10m per project.

Janist Aphornratana, director at Bangkok-registered PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal & Tax Consultants, said that there has been a notable shift, and that the country is no longer interested in chocolate or candy manufacturing – the attention now is on technology.

Kan Yuenyong, executive director at Thai think tank Siam Intelligent Unit, noted that: “This strategy aims at an economic restructure where the focus would be on areas such as the knowledge-based economy, the creative industry, the green industry, alternative energy, hospitality and wellness, which are considered to be less polluted and create higher value." Incentives will focus on merit-based areas, such as investment in research and development, and green business.

The new strategy includes a list of 200 eligible business activities that are divided in two groups: those that relate to national economic restructuring and qualify for incentives, such as corporate income tax exemptions, and those supporting industries essential for the production chain.

“The aim is for Thailand to transform from a middle-income country to a higher-income one,” said Ms Aphornratana.