Thailand not sweet for foreign investment

When it comes to selecting an Asian country to set up shop in for small and medium size businesses, Thailand is far from the sweetest choice. While one government agency seeks to attract foreign investment, another agency seeks to push foreigners away.

Never mind the multi billion dollar companies, forget even about companies that make tens of millions of dollars, but focus on small companies with great ideas and products or services that simply can not afford the high wages of the west. These companies can employ between 3 to 50 Thais each, and although the employment numbers are small, they do add up. After all the oceans of the world started with a single drop of water, and the great wall of China started with a single brick.

Some examples may include companies that manufacture electronic devices, or some novelty item that may be featured in a magazine or even a service that can be marketed in other countries such as customer support. They all are small startup companies without big bank accounts.

The foreign owners of smaller companies regularly encounter the more than subtle feelings that they are not wanted in Thailand. There is a clear double standard in place between what Thais must do and what a foreigner must do to stay in business. In some cases on a fragile budget, that may break the bank particularly so in rough economic times. This ultimately gets back to other business minded people and in turn causes the choice of another country to set up shop.

The single biggest complaint is the need to travel huge distances to renew visas. Before it was not to difficult to just go to a neighboring country like Malaysia or Cambodia to renew a non-B visa (work visa). But now they must travel thousands of miles if not back to their home country just to secure another visa. That all is by choice of the Thais and totally uncalled for. That can also add up to several thousands of dollars in airfare and other accommodations that all is seen as some form of sick humor to make foreigners jump through hoops. If anything spells “GO AWAY” that sure does.

So there are clear mixed signals when it comes to this, and that does not encourage people to consider Thailand for smaller businesses. Other countries are much more inviting and even go out of their way in some cases to lend a hand with paperwork. Thailand however is stress central for this. This is all behavior that is counter productive and quickly turns what was once sweet to being completely bitter.

Connecting the Dots is unsure as to why this is, but we do have several working theories. The one that seems to make the most sense is fallout from the Thai education system. Because of the poor quality of education in Thailand, many Thais lack what it takes to be competitive on a global scale. So in many cases foreigners constantly outperform the Thais. So this may be seen as an attempt by the Thais to alter the playing field by putting foreigners at a disadvantage.

The other theory that seems to have basis in other areas is a form of Xenophobia that foreigners will simply come and take over Thailand. Many laws and restrictions reflect this. As a result Thailand simply becomes less friendly if you want to stay for more than 30 days. For Thailand to attract more smaller scale foreign investment, these issues must be addressed.

One Response to Thailand not sweet for foreign investment

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