Board of Investment: The application workflow
Worldwide promotion of Thailand’s industry by foreign investments
The Thailand Board of Investment operates under the Prime Minister’s Office and is the principal government agency for encouraging investments in Thailand. It is headquartered in Bangkok and all final decisions of the board are made in the capital alone.
With its 14 overseas offices (Beijing, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New York, Osaka, Paris, Seoul, Shanghai, Stockholm, Sydney, Taipei, and Tokyo) and seven regional offices (Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen, Nakornratchasima, Chonburi, Surat Thani, and Songkla) the agency serves as Thailand’s front desk in liaising with potential investors.
While the overseas offices typically salute and welcome each and any foreign investment, it is the task of the headquarters to enforce a specific industrial policy. Therefore, it is not unusual that empty promises which have been made abroad, meet the reality check in Bangkok.
Commencing September 11, 2017, the Office of the Board of Investment has been internally restructured. This is the new division structure:
- Division 1: Bio and Medical Industries
- Division 2: Advanced Manufacturing Industries
- Division 3: Basic and Supporting Industries
- Division 4: High-Value Services
- Division 5: Creative and Digital Industries
In Bangkok, there are two units under the BOI that facilitate investments by speeding up the paperwork associated with government regulations. On the one side, this is the “One Stop Center for Visas And Work Permits”. The OSC can process applications or renewals of visas and work permits within three hours, assuming all required documents are provided. In addition, the center handles many other transactions, including changing visa status (from tourist or transit to non-immigrant business status), payment of fines, and processing of re-entry stamps, all within three hours or less. The other unit is the “One Start One Stop Investment Center”. The OSOS has staff from almost two dozen agencies available to help investors with various applications.
Steps and hurdles for the successful BOI application process
The workflow of the BOI application process follows a legally imposed pattern. Applications can be submitted either by sending the documents by hand, by mail or by using the E-Investment Promotion System, which not always works smoothly.
The data and information provided to the BOI should not be made thoughtless. They might be utilized for customs purposes, for transfer pricing and other matters. Whether the data and information are misused is another question. Therefore, a comprehensive application strategy has its advantages.
Inbound investment promotion does not mean foreign business promotion
Well educated ladies at the BOI headquarters explain foreigners with a smile that the BOI has the mission to support foreign investments. This is at its best correct in so far as it relates to money-inflow and know-how transfer into Thailand. Foreigners misunderstand this as a promotion of foreign businesses. However, investment promotion granted by the BOI is anything but a donation made by the friendly Thai government.
The success of the BOI is measured in the number and amount of investment promotions granted. Therefore, the BOI officer and the foreign applicant seem to have the same interest. However, the challenge is not to obtain a BOI promotion certificate, but to avoid the disadvantages of the promotion. The difficult task is to minimize the various commitments and to maximize the scope of promotions in scope and size.
The poorly adviced foreigner has no solid overview what is possible and what not. BOI promotions with a suboptimal, second class outcome are the pitiable result. To view the BOI promotion process as a do-it-yourself task is one of the most expensive mistakes a foreign investor can make in Thailand.
Legal services on BOI investment promotions
The law firm provides comprehensive legal advice and assistance for new investments as well as existing BOI promotions. The scope of professional services is described at pugnatorius.com/boi