Thailand provides strong portfolio options for international investors. Its growing economy and rapidly expanding population allow for a lot of opportunity. Thailand hosts the second largest economy in Southeast Asia and the GDP is steady, thanks to the auto industry and the country’s large exports in items like rice, textiles, cars, computers and jewelry. Overseas investments in Thailand could even potentially create a pathway to permanent residence and even citizenship if that’s part of your goal.
Thailand’s investor, or business, visa is issued to foreign nationals who are working on investment projects approved by Thailand’s Board of Investment. The projects must benefit the country in ways that increase employment, promote exports, and use raw materials. You can apply for this visa with a valid passport, a visa application, sufficient financial means, and proof of investment goals, such as corporate documents or letters of invitation from Thai companies.
The approved visa will initially be issued for a three month residency, but you can extend that visa in one year increments. Three of these extensions will allow you to apply for permanent residency. Be aware, however, that there is an annual limit of 100 foreigners per country, per year, who can be approved. In addition to living in the country for three years, you must also have invested in Thailand at least 3,000,000 Baht during your stay.
Permanent residency would allow you the right to live, work, study, and do business in Thailand without any restrictions. After 10 years of permanent residency, you can apply for Thai citizenship.
Thailand’s Investment Market
You can invest in Thai securities through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and American Depository Receipts (ADRs). These are investments that are limited to those who have access to U.S. markets, though.
The securities markets are made up of banking, finance, and energy sectors. These represent one third of the total market and almost half of all trading volume. If you’d like to invest directly into these stocks, you can do so through two exchanges: the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and the Market for Alternative Investment (MAI). Expats can purchase from these exchanges through an intermediary that is registered as a member of the Stock Exchange of Thailand. It might also be good to know that dividends are taxed in Thailand, but capital gains are not.
Popular growing sectors for lower risk investments include those made in these industries: automotive, electronics, robotics, aviation & logistics, agriculture, biofuels & chemicals, medical, and tourism.
While foreign investors in Thailand can’t purchase land in the country, they can purchase apartments and condos. As long as the overall building is 51 percent Thai owned, expats can purchase 100 percent of a condo or apartment. If you want to buy land or a house, you can only do so with the help of a Thai national, because you are only allowed to own up to 49 percent of these assets.
The condo and apartment market in Thailand is thriving thanks to that rapidly expanding population. Property values are rising, so if you make a purchase soon, you should see some decent gains. Just be careful when making your condo or apartment purchase, because the quickly growing nature of the market has caused both the government and builders to be more lax in regulating construction. You don’t want to buy something that you find has construction issues a few years down the road. Look for some of the other owners and ask around about their experience in a building before making your decision.
Of course, the level of risk you’re taking on in a foreign investment directly correlates with the political landscape and overall stability of the country in question. Thailand did have a rough year in 2014, when the people were split over who should lead the country and held a military coup. In 2016, Thailand’s king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, passed away and left the constitutional monarchy to his son, Prince Vajiralongkorn. This new king has since begun to pave the way for a return to democracy, and Thailand is making a strong recovery. It appears that peace has finally reached Thailand, and the economy is quickly growing as a result.
You’ll undoubtedly want to take all of this into consideration when choosing whether to make investments in Thailand. If this is your dream home, though, investing here wouldn’t be a bad idea. Just make sure that the vehicle you choose for investing is going to be the one that suits your individual needs. Remember, it’s called the Land of Smiles for a reason!
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