Some foreign car manufacturers and importers of foreign cars are claiming that Thailand’s first time car buyer program discriminates against imported vehicles, reports the Bangkok Post. Tata, for example, claims: “implementation will create unfair trade competition as only locally built vehicles are entitled for the tax rebate which is as high as 100,000 baht”. The Thai government contends the new regulations do “not contravene WTO regulations.”
Thailand recently lost a WTO dispute with the Philippines over imported cigarettes. A summary of the WTO's decision can be found on the WTO's website here. In that case, the WTO concluded, among other things, that:
- "The Appellate Body upheld the Panel's finding that Thailand acts inconsistently with…GATT 1994 by subjecting imported cigarettes to internal taxes in excess of those applied to like domestic cigarettes."
- "The Appellate Body also upheld the Panel's finding that Thailand acts inconsistently with…GATT 1994 by according less favourable treatment to imported cigarettes than to like domestic cigarettes."
It's too soon to see if and how this dispute will evolve and whether it will actually lead to a WTO challenge.