Creative Chiang Mai committee contemplates UNESCO designation
From left, Committee member
Martin Venzky-Stalling joins Timothy Curtis of UNESCO, Director of the
Development Committee Dr. Nat Vorayos and U.S. Consul Susan N. Stevenson at
the presentation of the UNESCO Creative City concept.
By Shana Kongmun
The committee of Creative Chiang Mai invited Timothy Curtis,
Director of the Cultural Section of the UNESCO office in Bangkok to come to
Chiang Mai and present a detailed background on the meaning of and applying
for UNESCO designation as a member of the Creative City network.
UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization) created the concept of a creative city network as a means to
promote social, economic and cultural development at a city level through
creative industries. With a current network of 25 cities in 7 different
fields; film, literature, music, crafts and folk arts, design, media arts
and gastronomy, the goal isn’t so much to promote what the city already is
famous for but to promote the potential it already carries for that sector.
The applicant city must have an overall urban environment and cultural
landscape fuelled by creativity with a basic creative industry
infrastructure and the strong presence of professional groups in that field.
Other criteria include experience in hosting events in the creative fields,
both formal and informal structures in place for education and research and
respect for local materials and urban and natural conditions.
The Creative City network can benefit by not only offering a strong branding
presence but offering member cities networking opportunities and giving them
the opportunity to promote local cultural assets on a global scale.
Creative Chiang Mai committee members plan on working with the government to
consider this opportunity for the city and what category would best suit
Chiang Mai. More information on Creative Chiang Mai can be found at
Amity Company: The Thai Company without Thais
The Foreign Business Act (1999) of Thailand (the "Act")
generally restricts foreigners from engaging in most business activities in
Thailand, without special permission as provided by the Act. Serious
violations of the Act by a foreigner or facilitated by a Thai carry
significant criminal penalties. In the case of a Thai limited company,
Section 4 of the Act provides that if fifty percent or more of its share
capital is owned by a non-Thai, then that company is a "foreigner" for
purposes of the Act. This means that if a foreigner wishes to conduct
business in Thailand in compliance with the Act, the foreigner generally
must find a Thai willing to actually invest in and own more than half of the
company. This can be a significant impediment to a foreigner wishing to
conduct lawful business in Thailand.
However, Section 10 of the Act does provide for a significant exception to
its restrictions on business by foreigners in Thailand. Such exception is
for foreigners whose country is a party to a treaty that outlines that each
party's citizens may operate businesses in each other party's country under
the same conditions as their own citizens. Currently, Thailand has such a
bilateral treaty only with the United States. Under the Treaty of Amity and
Economic Relations between the United States and Thailand (1968) (the
"Treaty") citizens of the United States and of Thailand are granted
reciprocal national treatment with regard to, among other things, ownership
of businesses in the other's country. Thus, a Thai company of which fifty
percent or more of the share capital is majority American owned, a majority
of the directors are also American and which further obtains formal
permission pursuant to the Treaty (herein after referred to as an "Amity
Company") is permitted, without any Thai ownership or management, to engage
in virtually any business activity in Thailand in which a Thai majority
owned company is permitted to engage.
In order a Thai limited company to qualify as an Amity Company it must meet
the following conditions:
(1) more than half of company's capital is held by an American(s);
(2) more than half of the company's shareholders are Americans or American
(3) more than half of the authorized directors of the company are
American(s) or Thai(s); and if
(4) if authorized director is from a third country, he must be required to
jointly act for the company with another authorized director who is either
American or Thai.
However, if the Amity Company wishes to engage in any of the business
activities restricted by the Act, this permission is not automatic. To do
so, the Amity Company must then obtain a "Foreign Business Certificate"
("FBC") as provided for under Section 11 of the Act. But because of the
Treaty, obtaining the FBC for an Amity Company is a relatively certain and
expeditious process as long as the legal and administrative requirements are
met during the application process.
Please note that although under the Treaty Americans have the right to own
and control their Thai limited company, it does not grant Americans
unrestricted freedoms to stay or work in Thailand. In other words, Americans
must obtain the relevant valid Thai visas and work permits to stay and work
in Thailand just like citizens of other third countries.
It should also be noted that the right to own land in not granted by the
Treaty. Thus, although pursuant to American law foreigners of good standing
may own land in the United States, under current Thai law, with few
exceptions, foreigners, including Americans and Amity Companies, may not own
land in Thailand.
Finally, although the Treaty would permit an Amity Company to engage in most
businesses in Thailand including most generally restricted by the FBA, the
Treaty itself does include exceptions. Therefore, the Treaty does not grant
the right to an Amity Company to engage in any of the following businesses
(3) fiduciary functions;
(4) banking involving depository functions;
(5) exploitation of land or natural resources;
(6) domestic trade in indigenous agricultural products.
Duensing Kippen is a multi-service boutique law firm specializing in
property and corporate/commercial matters and is also the only such firm in
Thailand that compliments its property and corporate/commercial legal
expertise with a core tax law practice. Duensing Kippen can be reached at:
[email protected] or for more information please visit them at: