New forex regulations to ease investment overseas and FET requirements
The Bank of Thailand is planning on easing some foreign exchange regulations to enable local investors to invest in overseas securities among other issues. The new regulations will allow stock brokerages to buy and sell foreign exchange for local people and non-residents. Additionally commercial banks will be able to give baht loans to non-resident companies investing in Thailand without needing central bank approval. Commercial banks will be allowed to issue baht loans to companies registered in the Greater Mekong sub-region for infrastructure and industrial investment projects that benefit Thailand. Money changers will be allowed to sell foreign currency banknotes to offshore banks and money changers and retail investors with assets over 50 million baht but below 100 million baht will be able to invest directly in overseas securities up to a gross flow of $1 million annually. The BOT will also ease rules on Foreign Exchange Transaction Forms (FET) such as allowing other documents such as credit advices and supporting documents in email form. The BOT is considering eliminating the need for FETs and stamps altogether later this year.
The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and private organizations have forecast 3.6% growth in the country's gross domestic product this year. Exports are expected to continue to grow in the second half of 2017 and higher agricultural prices have boosted consumer spending and private sector confidence. Tourism and agricultural are expected to be the main drivers of growth this year and government investment in infrastructure projects will also help growth. Tourist arrivals grew 2.7 percent year on year in the first five months of the year reaching 14.3 million while the total number for the year is also expected to rise by 5.51 percent to 34.39 million. International tourists are expected to generate revenues of 1.81 trillion baht, up 10 percent and domestic tourists are forecast to contribute 950 billion baht in revenues.
Rising economic sentiment has made Bangkok the strongest performer in office rentals for the Asia-Pacific with the highest growth rates quarter to quarter and year on year. Office rent has been rising for the past two years due to strong absorption and a tight supply. Experts believe that strong growth in Thailand’s service sector is the reason for the increasing demand for office space, this growth along with the lag in supply is expected to see rents continue to rise.