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August 26, 2007

US businesses wary of amended act

US business interests in Thailand remain concerned about Thailand's possible tougher provisions of its amended Foreign Business Act (FBA), Thai Commerce Minister Krirkkrai Jirapaet said Sunday.

Mr. Krirkkrai said he had met US businessmen on the sidelines of the ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations) economic ministers meeting in Manila. They said they were concerned about Thailand's FBA which is being amended by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for fear that they might not have sufficient control of their business ventures in the kingdom and therefore will have to transfer investments elsewhere.

On August 8, Mr. Krirkkrai withdrew the controversial amendments to the FBA from the final round of a heated Assembly session following a failure to push through the Ministry's version since some NLA members aggressively pushed for a tougher law.

Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) chairman Santi Vilassakdanont earlier expressed concern over the proposed NLA change in the original definition of foreign voting rights stating that control would affect investment decisions by new foreign investors.

The commerce minister said he had explained to US business representatives men that the issue was now beyond his authority, as NLA members wanted to amend the Act. If the businessmen were dissatisfied they could discuss it with NLA members.

Referring to Thailand's exercising compulsory drug-licensing as part of the national agenda in an attempt to improve the country's health care system, Mr. Krirkkrai said US businessmen felt that concerned officials from both countries should discuss not only medicines but that the scope of the proposed discussion should cover the entire health care which also includes food.

The minister said he agreed with the idea and that he would raise the US proposal so that a solution could be made.

Thailand last year issued compulsory licences for Efavirenz, Kaletra and Plavix from Merck's MSD (Thailand), Abbot Laboratories and Sanofi-Aventis. The first two drugs are used to treat AIDS while the last medication is for treatment of heart disease. TNA reports

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