US - Thailand Treaty of Amity
The US - Thailand Amity Treaty has promoted US and Thailand to do trade relations since 1966. The treaty requires the Thai government to give businesses owned and run by American investors national treatment. This exempts American businesses from most of the regulations mandated by the Alien Business Law of 1972.
For a company to be eligible for Amity Treaty Status, at least 50% of its directors 51% of its shareholders must be American citizens. This restriction applies to all parent companies as well. The US - Thailand Amity Treaty does not apply to the following industries:
- Land Ownership
- Inland Transport
- Inland Communication
- Natural Resource Exploitation
- Commercial Banking
- Services Involving a Fiduciary Duty
The US - Thailand Amity Treaty's future is uncertain. Thailand has a treaty obligation with the World Trade Organisation to treat investment from every WTO member nation the same. A WTO arbitration panel gave Thailand until 2005 to reform their treaties and stop preferentially treating American investors. Now that the deadline has passed, WTO member nations are free to request trade sanctions against Thailand to force compliance with the WTO ruling. For now, this issue remains dormant, but, if international pressure mounts, Thailand may have to decide between cancelling the US - Thailand Amity Treaty and granting national treatment investors from all W.T.O. member nations.
Registering for Amity Treaty StatusStep 1: Certification of US Ownership by the US Commercial Service
The first step in the registration process is certification by the United States Commercial Service (CS). This takes one to two weeks from the time an application is filed. Applicants must file a request form with the Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. There is a $60 USD fee for this service, which can be paid by credit card or bank draft. Notarized supporting documents will be required.Supporting Documents
Solo proprietors are only required to submit a notarized copy of their passport to support their application. The copy can be notarized in the US or at the US Embassy.
Corporate entities must submit a variety of documents, including corporate bylaws, lists of shareholders with their nationalities, articles of incorporation, and notarized copies of U.S. shareholders' and directors' passports. Subsidiary companies are additionally required to submit these documents for the parent company. All documents must be notarized by notaries public in the United States or consular officials at the US Embassy. Submit four sets of documents: one set of original (notarized) documents in English, one set of English photocopies, one set of Thai language originals, and one set of Thai photocopies. Preparing the supporting documents can be difficult, and the US Commercial Service recommends hiring an attorney to help prepare the paperwork.Step 2: Applying to the Thai Department of Business Development
Once the application is certified by the United States Commercial Service, the company is eligible to submit an application to the Department of Business Development, a division of the Thai Ministry of Commerce. Include the certificate issued by the Commercial Service and original copies of the supporting documents, which the Commercial Service will have returned. The Department of Business will require additional documents, such as a map showing the business location and proof of the foreign representatives' legal residency in Thailand. There is a 2,000 THB processing fee, and processing time ranges from a few weeks to a few months. When the application is approved, a certificate will be issued and the US company will receive national treatment.