The Situation and Legal Problems that Hinder Outward Foreign Direct Investment: A Case Study of Direct Investment of Thai Restaurant Business in the U.S.

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Chanisa Ngamapichon


Thai food is famous worldwide for the reason of the taste and delicacy of Thai food. One of the countries that is very attractive to direct investment by opening and operating Thai restaurants is the United States as Americans’ positive view about Thai food. Although the United States is an attractive market for Thai restaurants, there are many obstacles to direct investment of Thai entrepreneurs, such as lack of coordination between investors and local government agencies, capital problems, labor, license, political policy “Buy Americans, Hire Americans” and ingredients for cooking authentic Thai food etc. Another important issue is that Thai restaurants abroad should be able to serve authentic Thai food and show the food culture of Thailand which need to be operated by Thai and Thai chefs. If the owner is not Thai, Thai food may be mixed with other national food. By this situation, consumers can be confused about the taste of Thai food. This is the reason why the lack of human resources, especially the experienced chef, caused by difficulty in applying for a visa and work permit in foreign countries including the U.S. is one of the critical problems affecting to this business and image of Thai food and the major obstacles to operate Thai restaurant in foreign countries including the U.S. In accordance with these all obstacles of Thai restaurant in the U.S., SMEs should be supported by legal instruments, measures and related government agencies. To this end, the development of food markets need to be fully integrated starting from upstream which is to improve the quality of ingredient and infrastructure for Thai food production to downstream which is to support the business of Thai restaurants in both Thailand and foreign countries.

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