Thailand Announces International Business Center Regime to Replace Existing IHQ and ROH

Background

The Board of Investment of Thailand has unveiled the International Business Center initiative, bringing an end to the International Headquarters and International Trading Center scheme on December 11, 2018.  Steered by Regulation No. Sor. 6/2561[note]Regulation No. Sor. 6/2561 as per Investment Promotion B.E. 2520 as of Dec 19, 2018[/note], the IBC scheme aims to incentivize international businesses to establish regional or global hubs in Thailand in a manner that is compliant with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. The framework refers to a set of tax planning strategies that addresses tax avoidance, base erosion, and profit sharing.[note]‘About the Inclusive Framework on BEPS’, OECD (2018) (available at http://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/beps-about.htm) as of Dec 19, 2018)[/note]

The regime comes as a response to the ‘Harmful Tax Practices – 2017 Progress Report on Preferential Regimes’ which identifies the previous International Headquarters and International Trade Center initiatives as harmful tax practices. While new applications for the aforementioned initiatives will no longer be taken, businesses that are currently under the International Headquarters, Trade Center, International Trade Center, or Regional Operating Headquarter II schemes can continue to avail their tax incentives until their status expires. Conversely, businesses currently under Regional Operating Headquarters I will only be able to enjoy their incentives up to the accounting year 2020.[note]“New tax regime for foreign corporate headquarters”, The Nation (2018) (available at http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/Economy/30358960)[/note]

Therefore, applicable businesses that have not yet availed the tax benefits pledged by the Thai government must apply for the IBC scheme going forward.

What are the requirements?

Businesses seeking to apply for the International Business Center regime must meet the following criteria[note]Regulation No. Sor. 6/2561 as per Investment Promotion B.E. 2520 as of Dec 19, 2018[/note]:

  • No less than THB10 million in registered share capital.
  • At least 10 members of staff who possess technical skills must be hired permanently. Businesses engaged in financial management activities must hire 5 permanent members of staff.
  • A minimum annual expenditure of no less than THB60 million in the country. Note that this excludes beneficiaries of the Regional Operating Headquarters I, Regional Operating Headquarters II, and International Headquarters schemes who currently enjoy tax privileges.

Applicants eligible for the International Business Center scheme should be engaged in the following business activities[note]Regulation No. Sor. 6/2561 as per Investment Promotion B.E. 2520 as of Dec 19, 2018[/note]:

  1. Organizational administration, corporate planning, and business coordination;
  2. Sourcing and procurement of raw materials and parts;
  3. Research & Development;
  4. Technical support;
  5. Marketing and sales;
  6. Human resource development;
  7. Financial advisory services;
  8. Economic and investment analyses;
  9. Credit control and management;
  10. Treasury Center;
  11. International trade;
  12. Other services.

Those applying for International Business Center status can also benefit from the ‘B1 privileges’ given by the Board of Investment which include:[note]“A guide to the Board of Investment 2018,” Office of the Board of Investment (2018) (available at https://www.boi.go.th/upload/content/BOI-A%20Guide%202017-EN-20180402_5ac3614b3ee08.pdf) as of Dec 19, 2018[/note]

  • Exemptions from import duties levied on Research & Development equipment.
  • Eligibility to purchase and own land.
  • Permission to remit funds abroad in foreign currencies.
  • Permits for foreign members of staff.

While the new International Business Center scheme has been announced by the Board of Investment, it has yet to be issued at this point in time, although it can be expected in the near future.

For more information about our Board of Investment and Corporate Practice, please feel free to contact us using the form provided.

 



 John Mendiola