What is the Office of Commercial Affairs?
We are the overseas representative office for the Royal Thai Government’s Ministry of Commerce. We operate within the Ministry of Commerce’s Office of the Permanent Secretary and are primarily responsible for trade matters including policies at the multilateral and bilateral levels with the aim of fostering trade between the United States and Thailand. We work closely in conjunction with the Offices of International Trade Promotion (also known as the Thai Trade Centers) located in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami, in seeking greater market access for the export of all Thai products.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the things being done at the Office of Commercial Affairs?
- We primarily handle regulatory matters. We monitor trade issues, U.S. regulations / laws (including tentative ones) and analyze possible repercussions for Thailand companies and products exported to the United States (such as GSP and AD/CVD). Further details on these specific issues are available in the Trade Topics tab on the menu above.
- We also monitor and analyze trade data on various commodities and sectors. Further details on these specific issues are available in the Data & Analysis tab on the menu above.
- We assist Thai companies interested in locating US customers (in conjunction with the regional Offices of International Trade Promotion / Thai Trade Centers).
- We also assist US customers interested in making first contact in the promotion of Thai products here in the United States. While we do not have expertise in every commercial sector, we can assist an interested party with initial consultations on general business issues and further direct you to the appropriate authorities for further contact in Thailand. For issues with locating Thai supplies, manufacturers, exporters or for information on trade shows / trade fairs or other business matchmaking assistance, we defer to our Thai Trade Centers.
I want to buy / import from Thailand? What should I do?
If you are interested in sourcing from Thailand, we recommend that you first contact one of the Department of International Trade Promotion’s Thai Trade Centers nearest you. They can assist you by providing lists of verified suppliers, a calendar of and registration information for various trade shows and other business match-making services with Thailand. Additionally, if time is an issue, you can use the links available at the bottom of this page below (see Trade Promotion) for the Department of International Trade Promotion’s available online resources.
Regardless of who you choose as your supplier, we recommend that you always thoroughly verify your prospective business partners before making any payments or transferring any funds overseas, as once such transfers are made they may be irreversible.
I want to invest in / open a branch office / set up a factory in Thailand? What should I do?
If you are interested in investing in or opening a branch office or manufacturing facility in Thailand, we recommend that you contact the Office of the Board of Investment nearest you. They can assist you by providing information on current government investment incentive programs as well as related regulatory information for your specific sector. Additionally, you can also get some preliminary information from their website.
Safety Information on E-Commerce and International Business
With the widespread use of the internet, please be aware that criminals and scam artists have also proliferated online. There are two main types of fraud that we have seen that online customers netizens should be made aware of:
- The Sale of Goods – the fraudsters will setup a website (or facebook group or alibaba listing) advertising below market / very low prices for in demand goods. These can range from medical supplies to agricultural products to more common goods like printer paper.
- Investment or Other Business Proposals – we have seen fraudsters approach companies offering to invest money in / give cash to their company or close some other kind of lucrative business contract. They typically locate their victims from investment / investor or other business related websites where people ask for funding.
Basically, either you find them or they find you.
In the first case, they will request a deposit and letter of credit as is usual for buyers and sellers. Then some time later “something” will happen and they will ask for a bank transfer instead. The exact reason can vary . Often in the second case (business / investment), we have seen them say “unforeseen government fees” or “additional official paperwork” is needed to complete the transaction / investment, which they will ask the US party to pay.
The exact amount will vary, sometimes the amount requested in the bank transfer is for the payment in full while other times it is just a small portion. This is done depending on how much they think you trust them. If they have a high level of confidence, they will ask for more. if they have a low level of confidence they will ask you for a small amount, knowing you probably won’t worry about such a small amount, relative to the total trans-action value.
Once any money is paid, they will soon come up with additional excuses or reasons and come back to you to ask for even more money. Again, they will say it’s for “government fees” or “for processing paperwork” or “customs fees” and again the exact reason may vary.
These demands will continue until you stop paying. At this point they will simply disappear. Their emails and phone will no longer respond or simply stop working entirely.
So how do they do this?
Typically, these fraudulent scams are run by trans-national gangs from all over the world and operated over the internet. This is how they usually work.
The first part is to find a money person. This is usually an unwitting / ignorant partner. Typically this will be done via advertising in employment sections of newspapers or on employment websites for an account manager or similarly titled position. The job description will be listed as receiving and cashing checks and money transfers. The account managers keep only a small portion of this money as their “commission,” and the bulk of the money from these received checks and transfers are forwarded onward via a variety of payment methods to a 3rd party – the true masterminds. This shields the criminals’ true identity.
These account managers are usually normal everyday people who do not know anything of the criminality and have simply responded to a newspaper ad or internet job site and process “customer” payments as per their job description.
The tools they use:
- Identity Theft: Sometimes these criminals will steal the identity of a famous person – a business man, a government official or a celebrity – so if you google the name, alot of real information will be shown and lend authenticity to their scam. Of course the person you are communicating with is not the real person. Much like a criminal contacting you saying they are Bill Gates or Elon Musk. It is simply to gain your confidence.
- Fake websites: While the websites may look nice, nothing on them, none of the content is real. From the products to the prices.
- Free emails: For personal use, these are fine, but if they make claims to being a large Fortune 500, million/billion dollar company and are still using hotmail or gmail or other free email, that should raise some concerns.
- Disposable mobile phones: As most countries have cheap mobile phones, called “burner phones” in the USA, a mobile number is easy to buy / use and then dispose of and replace with a new phone with a new number and start the process all over again. A supposed million dollar / billion dollar company will not be using mobile phones as their “official” phone number. See below.
What can you do?
Always perform your due diligence. Always perform the necessary background checks on anything and everything they say or send to you.
- Check their website. You can use public internet resources and domain records (such as whois.net which is free to the public and one of the tools we use) to check on who and when the sites were originally registered. If they claim to be a large Fortune 500 company or have been in business for 100 years or are a million / billion dollar business but the website was registered and created last month, that may be a sign that something isn’t right and that you should reconsider the situation.
- Check the details: Are the names spelled exactly correctly or the same as the real companies or people? The scammers sometimes use a 0 (zero) instead of a O (Oh) in email names or website names to trick viewers. Verify that the name is exactly correct – like microsoft.com and not microsoftllc.com or micr0s0ft.com, for example.
- Are they using VOIP or mobile phones to contact you? In Thailand, all phone numbers will begin with 66 (which is the international country code for Thailand) followed by a two digit city code. Any phone number that is within the 60 range (60-69) is a VOIP number. Any number within the 80 or 90 range (80-89 or 90-99) are mobile phone numbers. While it is possible for a person to use those numbers, it is unlikely that a large company will be using one of these types of numbers as the main number for the company, especially a mobile number.
- Wire Transfers. No government agency will ever ask you to pay for a government service fee via wire transfer.
- Should you have any questions or suspicions about a “Thai” company, please do not hesitate to contact The Office of Commercial Affairs or Thai Trade Center nearest you. We are always available to assist you (in verifying information, government documents, etc.) prior to you completing any transactions.
I want to export to / sell my US product in Thailand? What should I do?
- If you are a interested in exporting to / selling your product in Thailand, we recommend that you contact the US Commercial Service at the US Embassy in Thailand. As a branch office within the US Department of Commerce, they are tasked with assisting US companies wishing to export abroad, including to Thailand. They can provide information on market conditions, customer / importer lists and assist with other business activities (such as locating local partners / agents or helping to perform due diligence).
- In the USA, the US Department of Commerce also maintains local offices within most states which can help your company with any international export activities. A full list of which can be found here.
- If you are visiting our website from outside of the USA and require assistance exporting / selling to Thailand, please contact your own country’s representative Embassy in Thailand for further assistance. A complete list of foreign Embassies operating in Thailand (or if not in Thailand but in the region and whose area of responsibility includes Thailand) may be found here (listing provided by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
I have a dispute with a Thai company, what should I do?
We recommend all US importers interested in buying from Thailand to contact our Thai Trade Center FIRST for lists of vetted Thai exporters. If you then have trouble with that company for a commercial (company to company) transaction, you can send a letter, fax or email explaining the situation to the Thai Trade Center nearest you.
For disputes with a Thai company not connected through the Thai Trade Center, you can report the issue to the relevant US authorities, which may be found here. You can also send a letter, fax or email explaining the situation to the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in charge of your region. A complete list of Thai Embassies and Consulates world-wide may be found here: http://www.thaiembassy.org/main/
For the USA:
Royal Thai Embassy, in Washington, DC
- 1024 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Suite 401
- Washington, D.C. 20007
- Tel. (202) 944-3600
- Fax (202) 944-3611
Please bear in mind that the Royal Thai Embassy, the Ministry of Commerce (and related agencies) are NOT law enforcement or judiciary bodies and situations involving contractual disputes between two private parties will require arbitration or adjudication within the Thai judicial system as appropriate to the specific contractual requirements between the involved parties. This is the same as similar disputes in the United States.
If you were a tourist in Thailand and have a dispute with a Thai Company that took place during your trip, please contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand office nearest you.