Presently, sustainability and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have become key priorities for businesses worldwide. ESG is a concept that revolves around three important sustainability-related factors – environment, society and governance.
Consumers and investors are increasingly interested in the ESG initiatives of companies before making a purchase or investment decision. This is the case in Thailand, where we are seeing more companies announce sustainability initiatives, causing government authorities to supportively respond to these efforts.
In this two-part article, we will first focus on the sustainability trends in Thailand and the role of Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) with examples of current incentive schemes and privileges that facilitate sustainability-related activities.
Sustainability trends in Thailand
There is an overwhelming number of global sustainability programs at this moment, such as net-zero carbon emissions, circular economy, renewable and alternative energy, grassroots campaign and zero waste. As expectations rise, Thai companies have also been integrating ESG goals into their business strategies to positively impact the environment and society.
One of the first Thai authorities to foresee the importance of sustainability was the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET). In 2015, the SET introduced the Thailand Sustainability Investment (THSI) list, a list of Thai listed companies that have prominent ESG initiatives, in an effort to promote such companies. The SET defines sustainable companies as those that embrace risk management, supply chain management, innovation, and responsibility for ESG. By the end of 2021, 147 companies were included in the THSI list.
Furthermore, according to the SET’s website, it states, “Nowadays, long-term investment tends to be more focused on sustainable companies. The financial statement performance and the consideration in environmental, social and governance (ESG) perspective are keys aspects for analysis”.
In 2007, the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) was established and was strengthened in efficiency in 2019 with amendments to the underlying law. It is the key public organization for greenhouse gas mitigation in Thailand, driving the country toward a sustainable low-carbon economy and society.
The BOI promotes sustainability
The BOI is keen on encouraging businesses to implement sustainability measures and actively promotes investment in environmentally-friendly businesses, including electronic vehicles, natural gas separation plants, and cold storage using natural refrigerants.
The BOI currently grants investment promotion – including tax and non-tax privileges – to businesses who invest in various types of business activities or otherwise implement certain sustainable strategies, such as using alternative energy. The examples of the key measures and activities promoted by the BOI in an effort to promote sustainability are summarized below.
Depending on the measure, a qualified investment will be entitled to the following privileges: (i) tax privileges, including exemption of corporate income tax ranging from three to eight years (as applicable to the relevant promoted activity), exemption of import duty on machinery and exemption of import duties on raw materials used in production for export; and (ii) non-tax privileges including permission to bring in skilled foreign workers and experts into Thailand for the promoted business, permission to own land for the promoted business, and permission to remit money outside Thailand in foreign currency.
The four main measures implemented by the BOI are:
- Measure to promote Thailand as the regional EV hub.
- Measure to promote sustainability-related activities.
- Special measures to improve production efficiency.
- Measure to promote a grassroots economy.
In the next article, we will further discuss each of these measures and privileges granted by the BOI in more detail.