Exporting to Thailand – everything you need to know

The third largest economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten Southeast Asian countries that promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and socio-cultural integration among its members – Thailand is home to over 50,000 British residents, and the export of UK goods is worth around £1.96 billion a year. Service exports from the UK are worth around £708 million annually.

Top exports from the UK to Thailand include:

  • iron and steel
  • road vehicles
  • electrical machinery
  • power generating machinery and equipment
  • medicinal and pharmaceutical

If you think the Thai market could be good for your business, here’s everything you need to know about exporting to Thailand.

Where is Thailand?

Situated in southeast Asia, Thailand is bordered to the by Myanmar and Laos to the north, by Laos and Cambodia to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, The west of Thailand is bordered by the southern extremity of Myanmar and a coastline along the Andaman Sea.

Bangkok  is the capital city, and is almost 6,000 miles from London, with regular flights available from all over the UK.

Thai is the official languages, the currency is the Thai baht, the dialling code is +66, and the top level domain for websites is .th

What are the pros and cons of exporting to Thailand?

It can take time to build up the necessary business contacts to ensure your venture is a success in Thailand, but if you make a go of it, the rewards can be significant. The benefits of exporting to Thailand from the UK include:

  • growing affluent middle class
  • well-developed infrastructure
  • ranked in top 20% of countries listed in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Survey’
  • government’s pro-investment policies
  • hub for accessing opportunities in Greater Mekong sub-region, including Laos, Cambodia, Burma and southern China
  • 50% of the world’s population within a 5 hour flight

Doing business in Thailand is not without its challenges though, such as:

  • mid-ranking in Corruption Perceptions Index
  • poor Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement
  • foreign ownership restrictions in some sectors, especially services
  • complex customs requirements
  • low unemployment reduces availability of highly-skilled staff

And there are few things you should look out for though, and you may encounter the following challenges:

  • mid-ranking in Corruption Perceptions Index
  • poor Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) enforcement
  • foreign ownership restrictions in some sectors, especially services
  • complex customs requirements
  • low unemployment reduces availability of highly-skilled staff

How does tax work in Thailand?

The main tax rates in Thailand are:

  • VAT – Switzerland has a standard VAT rate of 7%.
  • Corporation tax – charged at 20%. If your company is incorporated in Thailand, it’ll have to pay income tax on worldwide income, gains and profits, but if you just have a branch in Thailand, you’ll only pay tax on business done in Thailand.
  • Income tax – Charged based upon earnings:
    • 150,000 Thai baht or less – 0%
    • 150,000 to 500,000 Thai baht – 10%.
    • 500,000 to 1 million Thai baht – 20%
    • 1 million to 4 million Thai baht – 30%.

How will I be affected by customs in Thailand?

All imported good are subject to import controls carried out by the Thai Customs Department, and all member ASEAN states benefit from a reduction in import duty.

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