1. What distinguishes your firm from others in your market?
The diverse backgrounds and experiences of our lawyers distinguish us. We have a broad mix of lawyers, some with decades of experience in our firm and some who have joined us from other leading firms in Thailand. In addition, our firm is culturally diverse, with lawyers qualified not only in Thailand but other jurisdictions as well. One distinctive characteristic of our firm is that it is both a leading Thai firm and a major independent regional firm with offices across Asia. As one of the largest law firms in Thailand, our resources and network, including being a member firm of World Law Group, enable us to provide a unique service in Thailand.
2. What are three words that describe the culture of your firm?
Dynamic. Multicultural. Progressive.
3. How does your firm participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives?
Typically, our lawyers would suggest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects to participate in. One recent example is our support for the “Food For Fighters” project to help communities in Bangkok. The “Food For Fighters” project hosted a center for donation and distribution of food, goods, and other necessities to help field hospitals and people who live in crowded and other areas around Bangkok requiring assistance. We also donated to a local hospital to support providing vaccinations to the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we are joining the WLG | impact project discussed at the WLG CSR Forum meetings and are preparing a project for Thailand to support this initiative.
ESG is of growing importance in Thailand, although it may not be as well established as other jurisdictions. ESG is an area in which we are developing expertise. For example, we held a joint webinar on Environmental, Social, and Governance Financing with an international firm to raise awareness in the Thai market.
4. Are there any new and exciting initiatives, practice areas or industry focuses in your firm?
We are better known for some of our longer-standing practice areas, such as projects, energy, banking, and project finance. However, as a result of significant lateral hires and becoming one of the largest firms in Thailand, we also have developed many new areas of practice over the past four years, including antitrust, aviation, data protection, employment, insurance, real estate, REITS, and TMT. More recently, debt restructuring has been a growing area of practice for us due to the impact of COVID-19. In addition, we have also been developing newer areas of expertise, including administrative law. Our disputes practice has increased its range of expertise to include advising on fraud investigations and white-collar crime.
Doing Business in Thailand
1. What is the current business climate in your jurisdiction, including major political, economic, and/or legal activities on the horizon in your country that could significantly impact businesses?
The global pandemic has impacted some sectors of the Thai economy, including those related to tourism and real estate. The consequence of this has been an increase in debt rehabilitation work (particularly concerning airlines). Investment in manufacturing and e-commerce remains strong. We see renewed interest in investing in real estate again, including in the hotel sector. The Thai government is keen to move towards becoming a high technology country and is encouraging investment in the so-called “S-curve” industries, including cars; innovative electronics; affluent, medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; medical services; defense; and education development. Given the incentives available, we expect to see further growth in these areas.
2. From what countries do you see the most inbound investment? What about outbound?
Inbound investment: Traditionally, Japan has been one of the top investors in Thailand, particularly in the manufacturing sector. We continue to advise Japanese investors on investment in a wide range of industries. Due to the increase of e-commerce, there has been more interest in investment in logistics and warehousing. In addition to Japan, Singapore and China are also top investors in Thailand.
Outbound investment: Investment from Thailand tends to be into Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam. The Thai energy sector has been one of the most active sectors for overseas investment. Other sectors include manufacturing, retail, and hospitality. We also see more outbound investment and financing by Thai banks into Southeast Asia.
3. In what industries/sectors are you seeing the most opportunity for foreign investment?
Aside from traditional sectors for foreign investment, including manufacturing, we expect to see growth in investment in e-commerce, logistics, and real estate.
4. What are potential Business Development opportunities for other WLG member firms?
Thailand remains an attractive destination for investment. There is an opportunity for joint marketing between member firms to showcase cross-border capability. For example, we have held joint webinars with VILAF on investment into Vietnam from Thailand. The strong growth in cross-border investment in Southeast Asia presents more opportunities to demonstrate cross-border expertise between member firms.
5. What advantages and pitfalls should others know about doing business in your country?
The advantages and pitfalls would depend on the sector in question. We recently produced a detailed guide titled “Doing Business in Thailand,” as a starting point. Our lawyers routinely advise foreign investors investing in Thailand across a range of sectors and are therefore able to give practice advice according to the nature of the investment.
6. What is one cultural fact or custom about your country that others should know when doing business there?
Thailand encourages foreign investment, and as a result, many foreign nationals live and work in Thailand. English is widely spoken in the Thai business community. Some aspects of Thai culture are similar to other countries in Asia. It is crucial to think about building long-term relationships and showing respect, particularly to those in more senior positions. As with many cultures, business dealings should be conducted in a manner that does not cause loss of face. Being patient is essential, no matter the challenges faced.