The South African – Thai Chamber of Commerce encourages and promotes bilateral commercial relationship between Thailand and South Africa.

Digital Economy/ICT

GOALS and topics
The Digital Economy is broad. We aim to support all BEING DIGITAL. Please see our definitions and strategy on website at http://www.jfcct.org/jfcct-committees/digital-economy-ict- committee/ (first two files).

PDPA – deferred a second time, to 1 June 2022.
Recap: Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) was enacted May 2019, to come into force May 2020. Operational parts were deferred in H1, 2020 to 1 June 2021, and have now been deferred by Decree a second time to 1 June 2022 by exempting 22 business sectors from application of the law. Advisories were communicated about this on 6 and 10 May; some chambers have provided it to their members.

There seems to be lack of cabinet interest in this law and lack of a sense of urgency about being ready, or realistic planning for readiness; the law is said to be too complex and troublesome. To be sure, a law like this does not sit well with Thailand’s operational bureaucracy. There is no PDPC formed yet. It still needs major public and private sector education; plans for subsidiary legislation, some operating aspects etc have been unrealistically over-engineered.

The Digital group has participated in depth since 2015 in the development of this law including many consultations, submissions and (in Nov 2018) a seminar. We have made submissions this year on the draft regulatory concepts and some procedures. Any existing draft regulations will need revisions due to the second deferral.

What does the second deferral mean?

  1. Continuation of the non applicability of operational parts to the same 22 business groups
  2. Continuation (most likely) of the same interim ‘confidentiality’ measures (‘security standards’) – see below
  3. EU GDPR continues to apply where relevant (if there is a European connecting factor)

‘Security measures’

  • Notification of security measures: A company is required to inform the company’s personnel, employees, or associated persons of the security measures that the company has implemented in accordance with the minimum requirements prescribed in the Notification, as well as create awareness among these persons of the importance of personal data protection and ensure their strict compliance with the prescribed security
  • Implementing security measures: A company is required to implement security measures for personal data, including administrative safeguard, technical safeguard, and physical safeguard related to control of access to personal data, which at least must cover the operations prescribed in the Notification, e.g. operations relating to personal data and device access control, authorization of access right, user access management, specifying user responsibilities and liabilities for certain unauthorized actions, and post-event verification method for certain personal data activities.
  • Option to use other measures: A company may consider using other measures for maintaining security of personal data than the measures specified in the Notification; provided that such alternate security measures are no less stringent than those prescribed in the

Some larger issues in the law:

  • Extra Territoriality – currently unworkable – we have as we did in 2018 recommended a ‘layered’ approach
  • Governance – see chart in February PC minutes. Will the PDPC be able to make timely and effective decisions under the planned arrangements?
  • Criminal penalties
  • Sectoral regulation – our recommendation is PDPC should be the single authority on data protection but sectoral regulations should be involved to advise and help implement

Next steps

  1. Engage with MDES again on resolving issues in the law (see below) and working on rule etc, procedures etc
  2. We work with IAPP International Association of Privacy Professionals (Thailand chapter).
  3. We will hold an information session shortly for chambers
  4. There are many seminars, courses on PDPA Without the regulations, none will be complete. We will recommend some when there is more clarity about the regulations.

 

eCommerce Tax

An eCommerce Tax became law in February, to be in force September, with draft guidelines to be available this month (May). Foreign providers of services will need to register for VAT. The process is a ‘simplified’ one which does not support tax neutrality (no input tax credit). TRD set up an on-line consultation about draft regulations and draft registration page with a google input set up for each chamber. The link is still up (although the consultatin period is closed) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfR8WOVDlWRTrJqc6csxOedR1gG5unFBSTNXhHZ_4 cy_bKcfw/viewform We held a consultation for chambers on 29th April, with a draft ‘white label’ version of the submission available and arranged an email address for submission of the Standard file by 30 April as the on-line comment version did not support attachments. Thank you to those chambers participating on 29 April, and those submitting on 30 April.

JFCCT submitted its response 30 April. Options were offered to all chambers (and those in the foreign business community not being JFCCT members, where the chamber was listed by TRD):

  • Put own Chamber logo on the standard submission and make own submission
  • Referred to the JFCCT submission
  • Make own comments

However it seems that only about 7 chambers availed themselves of this facility.

There are many unresolved issues; please see the Standard Submission for details. Next step to seeking response from TRD. We are due to hear from TRD about the next steps.

 

Smart Visas – ‘Freelancer’ and other changes

BOI is no longer pursuing this proposed new category or, it seems, other changes. Please see later under ‘Long Term Residents’. Smart visa approvals to 30 April 2021 (not 30 April 2020):

Smart visa is a good model for all skilled labour, it just needs refining to reduce admin and second guessing. It is a good reform tool.

Digital invoices and timing of payment/acceptance of non paper versions

We met with ETDA August 2020 on Electronic signatures, problems with electronic invoicing and tax, and ePayments. We provided a detailed background note. The invoicing issues are unresolved and we are sending

Cryptocurrencies; Digital Assets

Bank of Thailand issued a Guideline in March. There is great interest but some lack of clarity.

Baker & McKenzie has issued a comprehensive explanation of status as at 1 May. Please advise if you would like a copy.

Cross border smartphone payments: The Thailand-Singapore arrangement announced late 2020 by Bank of Thailand and Monetary Authority of Singapore is operational – use PromptPay (Thailand) and PayNow (Singapore).

Digital Education / MoE engagement via OVEC

Date not confirmed.

 

Telecoms in Myanmar

The situation in Myanmar has deteriorated further and the situation may lead to civil war. Telcos are doing their best to keep the internet open. Telenor has written off its entire investment in Telenor Myanmar. It will continue to operate and by its statement will continue to support a viable internet and other services in Myanmar.

 

GENERAL TOPICS ECONOMY

Likely GDP out-turn for 2021 may be negative (-0.5% – -1% per JSCCIB) or marginally positive (Bank of Thailand at 1%-2%). Published estimates are highly dependent on vaccine rollout, almost as a proxy for economic activity, leading to herd immunity, according to reports. International tourist arrivals be highly relevant. Refer to Tourism Committee reports, but as relevant – Phuket (vaccinated only) may open 1 July; otherwise October is the new target for tourism arrivals.

 

Vaccines – ‘ONE POPULATION’ policy

What is the ‘ONE POPULATION’ strategy? – All people in Thailand – citizens, residents, all those here legally (and perhaps even illegally) should be one population for vaccination. Within that, prioritisation such as the vulnerable, front line health workers, aged 60+ etc.

Recognition and kudos to government for good intentions and policy statements about ONE POPULATION, but is has not quite turned out like this. Officially vaccinations for foreigners are expected to start August and there is a foreigner (EN language) version of MOH PROM planned for August, but:

  1. While there are some ‘one population’ type statements, in reality there is a different priority list published for foreigners which for example includes embassy
  2. Is seems essential to work with government to create ‘self help’ JFCCT itself is doing this. Chiang Mai has pledged to vaccinate all foreigners for example. Embassy staff are typically done with foreign supplies.
  3. China has pledged to vaccinate all Chinese nationals in Thailand. US groups are pressing the State Dept to cover all US nationals in
  4. It is possible to use the MOH PROM tool to register using pink card, tax ID or social security registration, far for people 60 and over with 18-59 registration for Thais nationals having Hospitals can be seen as a distribution channel for government-supplied vaccines.
  5. There is also the possibility of receiving private supply via private hospitals using Moderna (which won’t be ready until October), and MOPH has advised not to delay. This scheme does not yet have full

We have a draft submission on ONE POPULATION.

 

Approved vaccines and in pipeline (at 12 May)

 Approvals – current and imminent

  • Coronavac (from Sinovac BioTech) “Sinovac” – imported
  • Astra-Zeneca (AZ) imported
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • AZ locally made under licence- Siam Bioscience – expected to release first batch 7 June
  • Moderna – approved 14 May , but not available until October


Approvals – in pipeline or future

  • Sputnik V – starting registration submission but still incomplete process
  • Covaxin – starting registration submission but still incomplete process
  • Pfizer BioNTech –Pfizer had not as at 12 May started registration submission at FDA. Press reports on imports for Q3/Q4 2021 (subject to FDA approval). BioNTech has announced a factory in Singapore, output in 2023
  • Sinopharm – no information about starting registration with FDA; no registration submission as most recently communicated by FDA


Discussed at length at our meeting 11 May, along with the MOH PROM tool. Also recommended:

  1. In the interests of good health management, an adverse event reporting system is recommended such as the www.hhs.gov.
  2. Vaccines are not mandatory and should not It is not as simple as it may sound, due to possible preconditions for entry etc.
  3. There is pressure to use vaccine ‘passports’. However there is no global standard and most economies will not recognise a vaccine which that economy has not itself IATA has a standard app (eg used by Singapore Airlines) and Air Asia has its own tool. Thus a Thailand-issue certificate relying on Sinovac will not be useful for travel to Singapore for example and some other places. The overall efficacy of vaccines is still in trial mode and vaccines are still largely experimental; cautions are still advised. Governments are not yet placing full reliance on vaccines as a statement of certainty.

MOH PROM

A registration tool for vaccination built on LINE app.

  • Currently only in TH language as officially only for Thai However it is accessible via Pink card, tax ID, social security.
  • Registration can also be done directly via hospitals for
  • Relies on LINE – not at this stage a downloadable app in its own right.
  • It does not try to certify vaccination status; it is a registration It is not clear what data base it is connected to. There are security concerns and no apparent user testing.
  • An official foreigner / EN version is to be available August but existing app can be used in meantime (see first bullet).Digital committee has prepared a description and recommendations.

 

AGMs in 2021 for Chambers of Commerce, Trade Associations, companies and other organisations

Background

Please see minutes of April PC meeting; there was no formal extension at the time.

Updates

Belatedly DBD (MOC) issued an Announcement to allow deferral if the original AGM was in the period 26-30 April, by one month. Almost of necessity the deferred meeting would need to be electronic, given current circumstances. The Announcement is not well thought out and needs selective interpretation (eg for an organisation with 22 April planned).

TRD issued support for late filing.

Options for an AGM:

  • Hold an electronic meeting in the period 26 – 30 May, strictly to comply
  • Comply with spirit by holding the meeting around this time
  • Defer the AGM and risk a modest

Next steps

We have prepared a submission to DBD to cover situations where organisastions have not done a deferral within the allowed period.

OPDC

Interaction 22 April. Main topics FDI, EoDB (including WP and V), Transparency/Rule of Law. On- going. We are grateful to OPDC for including us and receiving inputs.

Work Permit and Visa

90 day reporting: JFCCT wrote in March to Minister of Interior about the taking down of the on- line reporting facility. There is no explanation for taking it down other than that it was allegedly being ‘abused’. The on-line facility was re-instated; Immigration stated that avoiding queues in support of social distancing was important. We agree! Will that also apply to other Immigration interfaces?

The various follow ups to the WP and V submission immediately after the 16 December BOI – JFCCT session continues. We have updated the master file further and continually aim to harmonise with the foreign business community.

Long Term Residents

With the cessation of BOI development of a Digital Freelancer visa and apparent hold to development of existing smart visa categories, ML Chayotid Kridakorn, supporting DPM Supattanapong Punmeechaow proposes a new type of visa, ‘Long Term Residents’ in four target groups:

  1. Wealthy Global Citizens
  2. Wealthy retirees
    Many retirees have expressed a desire to work part time.
  3. Work from Thailand professional (including Digital Freelancer or Digital Nomad)
    Mainly like Digital Freelancer proposals.
  4. Highly skilled professional.
    Largely similar to existing four categories of smart visa.

Comments:

  • The identified groups seem reasonable, although addressing Resident status is
  • Rushed consultation (18,19 May) with draft materials and proposed requirements not Perhaps they will be. First consultation gave impression of fait accompli with fine tuning only.
  • For all four groups, there should not be a need for an additional work The smart visa model should be used (or something similar) and avoid winding back to pre smart visa models with two separate
  • A LTR support centre is a good idea but it seems premature to fine tune

 

The need for Work Permits was changed by the repeal of the Foreign Employment Act. Labour Decrees (July 2017 as amended by March 2018) replace it. The foreign business community push has been about ease of doing business and not needing unnecessary licences etc. Thus a WP is not needed where a board director (eg in companies, chambers of commerce, trade associations) for example is not signing financial statements. Thailand’s regional hub policy requires this – many foreigners not ordinarily resident in Thailand are directors of Thailand-incorporated companies. There are other changes effected by the Labour Decrees which relax the need for Work Permits.

 

FBA

JFCCT held an extensive review of FDI and in particular the FBA in both 2018 and 2020 (apart from earlier engagements in 2007 and 2014). The submission done in 2020 is here http://www.jfcct.org/major-business-issues/foreign-business-act/ In parallel to the proposal to suspend List 3 for three years, development of specific areas progresses:

 

  • Logistics
  • Services generally including Item 21
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Agriculture

 

These are current workstreams. If interested in joining please contact K Meaw. We have suggest to OPDC to merge forces so that this activity would have wider support and interest.

 

Some legal developments:

  • A new plan for better entry/visas etc per press reports – this is in the Long Term Residents topic –see above; (ii) Digital enablement law (Baker McKenzie has provided details, and this is a part of the Digitalisation Sub Committee in the Fast Track Regulatory Reform). (iii) Not updated information on the Associations law requiring all NGO’s / volunteer organisations to

 

Fast track regulatory reform.

See January minutes of time line of developments since September 2020. We are involved with two of the nine subcommittees so far (Digitalisation and Guillotine) and work with TDRI and others on both. See SME report for Guillotine topics. For Digitalisation, two current headline topics:

  • Agencies interacting on-line
  • Platform infrastructure in accordance with DGA master plan

We will hold a discussion with TDRI soon o the overall picture including Long Term Residents idea and OPDC initiatives.

Our suggestion would be a strong focus on implementing the work done by GU with any updated developments and focus.

Issues/Challenges: sub committees are re-visiting the existing 1,000+ licences. Pace of progress will be slow. Target to implement 85% of topics chosen (not the full list) in 2021; 100% in 2022. STO and OPDC supporting all sub committees. Budgets and capabilities needed for implementation, but also a change in mindset about the urgent need for implementation.

 

NACC

NACC international division is open to an informal, non case specific discussion. Still in planning.

 

Board of Trade interaction

To optimise this important relationship, we still need a system of inputting issues (with a short summary) in advance, then doing the post follow up actions. Board of Trade is an important institution, JFCCTs relationship is valuable. There are two meetings: main and executive. The main is traditionally more informational but it does have agenda items. Board of Trade meetings should continue to appear in the JFCCT Calendar. The FBA working group meeting has also requested a session where the structure and workings of the Board of Trade is explained and discussed. This was covered at the February PC meeting.

The process should be something like this:

  1. Consult in advance about issues to put on agenda
  2. Prepare short materials one week in advance
  3. Speak to them at meeting
  4. Follow up – report back Most issues are not resolved with one meeting.

Meetings of Digital Economy/ICT group: #1 19 Jan, #2/16 Feb; #3 11 March; #4 20 April; #5 11 May; #6 10 or 15 June. Participation is about 25; others welcome. See ‘how to participate’ one pager on JFCCT website – Digital Economy/ICT page.

 

Some Recent Events (since 21 April 2021)

  • 22 April- OPDC Dialogue on major policy points (FDI, EoDB, Digitalisation, WP&V)
  • 22 April – discussion Prof Dan Svantesson on Privacy
  • 29 April – eCommerce Tax – foreign business community review of draft submission
  • 29 April World Bank private sector diagnostic on digital investments
  • 4 May IAPP consultation on PDPA
  • 6 May – PDPA extension description distributed
  • 10 May IFD (consultant to DTN) interview on EFTA
  • 11 May Digital Economy #5 / 2021
  • 14 May EU – ASEAN BUSINESS COUNCIL: ASEAN: removing roadblocks for future growth
  • 18 May – consultation with office of ML Chayotid on Long Term
  • 19 May second day of

Up coming Events

  • Consultation with Indonesian authorities on experience with new Omnibus Law (via EU- ASEAN Business Council) 20
  • eCommerce Tax consultation – TBC likely week of 24
  • TDRI engagement on Fast Track Regulatory Reform and related topics
  • Information session on Fast Track Regulatory
  • Consultation with EU GDPR experts (Brussels) about PDPA deferral and EU assistance 28 May
  • Cybersecurity consultation – early June
  • World Bank country diagnostic – mainly SME and GVC – 4 June
  • NACC Consultation – informal – proposed for June
  • Digital Economy / ICT #6 for
  • BEING DIGITAL series – Privacy Summit – June (d
  • BEING DIGITAL series – Cybersecurity and On-line Confidence Summit – June
  • DEEP consultation with Ministry of Education
  • 13-16 July Regional Trade Fair AsiaTechX https://asiatechxsg.com/; covers https://www.connectechasia.com/home/ includes CommunicAsia, Broadcast Asia SatelliteAsia, (No EUBA event).

 

COVID 19 page http://www.jfcct.org/major-business-issues/covid-19/

See Past Events 9, 14, 28 October, 5 Nov, 8 Dec, 16 Dec http://www.jfcct.org/jfcct-past-events/

Laws portal for members www.jfcct.org/information-for-digital-economy-committee-members/ please use common DE/ICT password to access.

Updated Glossary – Glossary here– updated four times.

How to join us: see one pager + longer backgrounder on Committee page of website. http://www.jfcct.org/jfcct-committees/digital-economy-ict-committee/