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Asian News - Thailand: Licencing rules to ease for life and non-life insurance businesses

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Mar 2016

Thailand will soon allow freer foreign investment in four businesses: life insurance, non-life insurance, commercial banks, and representative offices of foreign banks. Foreign investors in these sectors in Thailand will no longer need to seek a licence from the Foreign Business Act (FBA) committee to hold stakes of more than 50% when they are removed from the list of businesses requiring such permission.
   The aim of this move is to promote competition, particularly in commercial banking and insurance services, and improve the ease of doing business in Thailand, reported The Nation newspaper. 
   The Cabinet agreed in principle last May that the four business types should be removed from the list, known as List 3, which stipulates the group of businesses in which Thais are deemed not ready to compete with foreigners. The FBA obliges foreign investors wanting to own more than 50% in business types in the Annex III list to seek approval from the FBA committee.
   Ms Pongpun Gearaviriyapun, Director-General of the Commerce Ministry’s Business Development Department, said that after the new regulations take effect, foreign investors can directly apply for an operating licence from the authorities or regulators of these four businesses, such as the Bank of Thailand, or the Office of Insurance Commission.
   Current procedure dictates that they seek the FBA committee’s approval first and then approach the regulators.
   At present, two foreign life insurance and six non-life insurance companies are among the financial institutions which operate under the FBA.
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