Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) is a Thai government agency established to promote investment in a wide range of targeted business activities in Thailand. It provides investment information and services for investors, and grants various incentives and promotions for company projects that meet the criteria for BOI privileges.
A significant amount of foreign investment in Thailand is made through BOI-promoted company projects. For many foreign companies, the only viable means of investing in Thailand is to obtain BOI privileges so as to avoid the foreign equity restrictions and Thai participation requirements that would otherwise apply, as discussed here.
BOI privileges can broadly be divided into tax privileges (including reductions or exemptions on corporate income tax, tariffs, import duty for machinery and raw materials) and non-tax privileges (such as permission to own land and have foreign experts work on promoted projects, and exemption of foreign ownership restrictions for promoted companies and exemption from work permit and visa rules).
There is an extensive list of business activities eligible for BOI privileges, which is subject to change according to BOI policy, as discussed in more detail here. Currently, as of early 2014, the list can broadly be classified as agriculture and agricultural products, mining, ceramics and basic metals, light industry, metal products, machinery and transport equipment, electronics and electronic appliances, chemicals, paper and plastics, and services and public utilities. Some of these activities have been identified by the BOI as priority activities. Certain conditions must be met to qualify as a BOI promoted project, such as minimum land area requirements, approvals from relevant government agencies and minimum investment capital requirements.
One of the BOI’s objectives is to decentralize investment away from Bangkok and the surrounding provinces to the lesser developed parts of Thailand. To this end, the BOI has divided the country into three zones based on economic and developmental factors, with greater privileges available for projects located in the outlying zones.
For more information on the BOI, please see the BOI’s website: www.boi.go.th