He said the ministry has found that a number of foreigners are engaged in a variety of service businesses at the expense of local operators. It therefore plans to add more services to Annex Three of the Alien Business Act, which lists business activities in which Thais are protected against direct competition from foreigners.
Without this protection, Thais may no longer be able to compete, he said.
"We are also ready to set up terms and conditions [for foreigners to engage in these businesses] as well as stricter examination processes," Yanyong said.
The Alien Business Act categorises business activities into three annexes. The first covers businesses in which foreign operators are banned, including publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, farming, gardening, forestry, timber, fisheries, herbal extracts, land transportation and the making of Buddha statues.
The second lists business activities in which foreigners must ask for permission before starting operations because they have implications for national security, culture and traditions.
They include the production
and distribution of arms and weapons, antique sales, woodcrafts, silk weaving and Thai traditional music, sugar production from sugar cane and mining.
Annex Three covers business activities in which Thais are not yet ready to compete directly with foreigners. The current list includes rice milling, marine animal breeding, plywood production, limestone industries, accounting, legal services, architectural services, engineering, construction, agencies, auctioneering, commodities trading, retail businesses with less than Bt100 million capital, advertising and hotel and tourist guiding.
In this category, the law imposes restrictions on foreign operators - for instance, by setting limits on foreign shareholding.
The ministry is entitled to revise the lists every year in response to the changing business environment, Yanyong said.
The ministry plans to add more service sector businesses to Annex Three, particularly related to spa operations in which Thai operators have developed an expertise.
The Ministry may amend investment conditions to enable Thai businessmen to be competitive in the business, Yanyong said.
For instance, the law currently stipulates that foreigners are able to enter the retail business if their investment is more than Bt100 million. However, the arrival of foreign retail companies has shown that the minimum investment requirement is too low to protect local operators and without additional protection, local retailers will suffer further damage at the hands of multinational retailers.
Moreover, the ministry will set up tighter inspection processes to check whether there has been any wrongdoing by foreigner operators at the expense of local consumers, he said.