Thai and Australian Foreign Business Law and the Impact of the Thailand Australia FTA

Nucharee Nuchkoom Smith


When Thailand and Australia entered into a Free Trade Agreement in 2005 the public focus was largely on the trade in goods and the benefits that would accrue to each country with a more open market. What appears to have been largely neglected is that the Thailand Australia Free Trade Agreement also covers trade in services, foreign direct investment including commercial enterprises, and the movement of persons. This paper describes the foreign business laws that operate in each jurisdiction. It will be seen that those of Thailand are much more restrictive of foreign entry than those of Australia.
Thailand provided additional concessions to Australian companies allowing them to operate in selected sectors such as consulting services, communications and education. Australia in its response reiterated that Australia was already a largely open market and Thailand was welcome to establish businesses and invest in Australia subject to the limited restrictions that apply to all foreign investors. Both countries agreed to facilitate the movement of persons associated with businesses established in the country of the other party. It is clear that Australia was the major beneficiary from these initiatives. This needs to be balanced against the fact that Australia had granted Thailand major concessions in opening its market to tariff and duty free entry of most Thai goods.

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