ASEAN Access Portal
The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) launched ASEAN Access earlier this month. ASEAN Access is a one-stop business information gateway for international- oriented businesses to expand their market outreach both in ASEAN and internationally. ASEAN Access will facilitate international-ization efforts among Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and provide trade-related information and market opportunities for ASEAN businesses from both the supplier and customer sides at no cost. The ASEAN Access portal will help mitigate the risks of entering a new market and will connect businesses to service providers in the areas of distribution, transportation and logistics, market research, and consultancy on intellectual property, laws and regulations, etc. ASEAN Access is a flagship initiative of ACCMSME, spearheaded by the Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP) Thailand, and supported by the Federal Government of Germany and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
ASEAN-EU Air Transport Agreement
ASEAN and the European Union concluded the world’s first bloc-to-bloc air transport agreement this month, the ASEAN- EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (AE CATA), which will allow airlines to expand their services to and within ASEAN and the EU. After the agreement is formalized, non-stop flights will be allowed between the countries by the airlines of the combined 37 member states. Additionally, the airlines will be permitted to fly up to 14 weekly passenger services with one stop within the other region to pick up passengers on the return leg, and there will be no limits on flights with one stop to pick up cargo. AE CATA will make ASEAN and EU airlines more competitive compared to airlines from other regions. The EU is ASEAN’s third largest source of foreign investment and its third largest trading partner.
ASEAN Digital Currency Sandbox
The ASEAN Financial Innovation Network (AFIN) launched a digital currency sandbox where banks and fintechs can experiment with central bank digital currency applications. The sandbox entity is a joint endeavor by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the International Finance Corporation, and the ASEAN Bankers Association in partnership with a global enterprise software firm and hosted on a cross-border open-innovation platform that serves as a curated global marketplace for application programming interfaces (APIs). Select APIs from the digital currencies sandbox will be available from August 2021. This collaboration will help equip financial institutions and fintechs with the tools to build central bank digital currency applications for new payment rails and multi-currency payment systems.
THAILAND LEGAL REVIEW
Effective from July 1, 2021, the Phuket Sandbox program will allow entry to Thais and foreigners traveling from designated countries (must be from countries/regions with a low to medium risk of the SAR-CoV-2 virus as announced and constantly updated by the Thai Ministry of Public Health) that have resided in the country of departure for at least 21 days before traveling to Phuket. Both direct and transit flights are allowed to enter Phuket under the Phuket Sandbox Scheme.
All travelers must also be vaccinated and comply with the same processes and document requirements for entering Thailand as all other foreigners as follows:
- A vaccine certificate proving that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 of no less than 14 days before, but no later than 1 year, from the travel date with a vaccine registered with the MoPH or approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Children under 18 years of age do not need to be vaccinated, but must travel with parents or guardians who have been vaccinated;
- A valid visa;
- A Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate;
- A COVID-19 health insurance policy with a minimum coverage of US$100,000 per traveler;
- A medical certificate with an RT-PCR laboratory result indicating that COVID-19 was not detected that was issued no more than 72 hours before departure;
- A confirmation of booking (and receipt) for 14 nights in an Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration (SHA) Plus certified accommodation in In case the length of stay is less than 14 days, travelers must present a confirmed flight ticket out of Thailand and payment confirmation for accommodation and receipt for the RT-PCR tests at hotels that cover their intended duration of stay;
- A receipt of advanced payment for COVID-19 testing in Phuket – After the travelers enter Thailand, they will undergo 3 COVID-19 tests using the RT-PCR method, 1) 1st day, 2) 6th – 7th day, and 3) 12th -13th day after arrival, as per the MoPH’s guidelines;
While staying in Phuket, the vaccinated travelers must stay in a SHA Plus-certified accommodation and are required to return to the hotel every day and are not allowed to stay overnight elsewhere. Travelers are allowed to engage in any tourism activities, but are advised to strictly follow the DMHTTA precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19: D – Distancing, M – Mask wearing, H – Handwashing, T – Temperature check, T – Testing for COVID-19, and A – contact tracing application (Download and install the ThailandPlus application and Morchana tracing application. The app must be kept on at all times as the foreigner moves to different locations around Phuket).
For travelling from Phuket to other Thai destinations, vaccinated international travelers are required to show a vaccine certificate, a medical certificate showing that they have tested negative for COVID-19 during their stay in Phuket, and valid visa at the Phuket Airport. All travelers must stay in Phuket for 14-days before they can travel to other parts of Thailand except for those travelers who only plan to travel within Phuket without leaving it to other provinces in Thailand or stay less than 14 days and are only permitted to depart Thailand by direct international flight from Thailand to the destination country.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Phuket Sandbox Scheme is subject to a reduction in the number of travelers to the city OR being revoked at any time if the number of Covid-19 cases in Phuket passes more than 90 cases within a week or there are more than 3 clusters or an explosion of Covid-19 cases in multiple areas.
Corporate Law News
Tax Exemption for Domestic Seminars
The Royal Decree on the Revenue Code governing the exemption from revenue taxes No.716 came into effect on May 27, 2021. The purpose of the Royal Decree is to grant a tax exemption of 100% of the income tax for companies or juristic partnerships for expenses from convening trainings and seminars for its own employees in Thailand between January 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021.
Such expenses include training and seminar rooms, accommodation, transportation, or other expenses relating to holding domestic training and seminars, as well as service charges made to tourism business entrepreneurs under the laws concerning tourism businesses and guides.
Significant Changes to Interest Rates
The Emergency Decree amending the Civil and Commercial Code on interest rates has been effective from April 11, 2021 onwards. The significant changes are as follows:
- The rate of interest which is not fixed by a juristic act or by an express provision of law will be reduced from 7.5% to 3% per Such new rate, however, will be reviewed by the Ministry of Finance every 3 years and may be set lower or higher according to the state of the economy.
- The rate of default interest will be reduced from 7.5% to 5% per annum (Interest rate of 3% as mentioned in 1) above, plus additional interest rate of 2%). However, creditors can still demand higher interest on any legitimate
- In case of paying off debt by instalments, the interest during the default shall be only calculated from the principal of the instalment in which the debtor is in Any agreement referring the calculation of default interest accrued from the total principle amount that remains outstanding will be null and void.
The material contained herein is only provided for information purposes. No part thereof may be deemed to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. Whilst every effort has been made to verify the contents of the material contained herein, we do not represent, warrant, undertake, or guarantee that the information contained in this newsletter is correct, accurate, or complete. Legal advice must be sought before acting on any information contained herein.