Andrea lives in Bangkok, where he set up “AD ASIA Consulting” to assist companies and individuals interested in moving to Thailand.
40-year-old, Rome-born Andrea Dolcemascolo moved to Bangkok, Thailand, where he now lives and works. Thanks to his business experience, which he developed during years of work in the Asian markets, he set up AD ASIA Consulting (which also has a branch in Rome). The agency not only follows step by step Italian companies which are interested in opening a branch or moving their production in Thailand, but also assists individuals and families during their moving stages to the Asian country.
“Taxation is fair, for example the VAT rate is 7%, withholding tax rates are 3% or 5%, social contributions - inspired by the US social security system - are paid with a 5% rate by the company and a 5% rate by the worker. Income tax is 20%. To open a “Limited liability company” you need 15 days. The majority of management staff is foreign or Thai with a foreign background, while the vast majority of Thais hold lower positions. The Chinese and Japanese are very present, but I would say the whole world is present in Thailand. The unemployment rate is 1%...”.
“Hi to all of Mollo Tutto’s friends! My name is Andrea Dolcemascolo, I’m 40 years old and I live in Bangkok (Thailand) with my Thai partner. I was born in Rome, but I lived for 12 years in Mestre (Venice), and I studied at the Liceo Artistico (Art high-school) of Venice. I worked in various sectors when I used to live in Italy: I’ve been a gas station attendant on the highway near Venice, I became the manager of another gas station in Mestre, I managed a cafè in central Rome, and in 1996 I started an import business from India. After that experience, in 2000 in Rome I set up AD ASIA MANUFACTURERS, which now still exists as a part of AD ASIA Group in Bangkok.
It all started from the persisting difficulties in setting up a profitable business. In 2003, I transformed my direct import and delivery business into a manufacturing one on behalf of a third party, as the trading sector was already showing signs of trouble. All of this happened with frequent travels, up to 7 months a year spent in India, China, Vietnam and Thailand, with the remaining 5 months in Italy and Europe. In 2006, even this business type conversion started to show the first cracks, due to the staff but also to the lack of professionalism by businessmen/dealers who, enmeshed in their financial problems, would blame the supplier therefore my company, and from there my frustration grew uncontainable.
After analyzing the problems, I realized that I should move to Asia, which was more and more booming in terms of development. In every trip, I noticed the gap between the reality in Italy and Asia, and it was too evident not to try this change. I set up AD ASIA MANUFACTURERS (Thailand) in 2007, but after four months my Italian partners put up some resistance which I opposed. I left the Italian company to my minority partners, and demanded the name change, which allowed me to bring the name to Bangkok. They closed their activity after two years, while I started to ride the wave, even if the start-up phase wasn’t painless.
I chose Thailand for several reasons:
1) Logistically, in geographical terms it’s strategic, if you consider the need to cooperate with other Asian countries.
2) It’s an advanced emerging market, with a bureaucratic system and services which work.
3) Taxation is fair, or even low, and allows entrepreneurs to grow. Growth is constant, even if it has experience some slowdowns because of political turmoil, a tsunami, and floods covering an area twice as big as Italy’s Lazio region.
4) The people smile, the country offer dream-like tropical destinations, food is good but you can find cuisines from all over the world.
5) Bangkok is an international city, the mindset is different from Italians, whom I consider narrow-minded.
6) The country is not violent, there is still respect between people even if at times it seems to be hypocritical, but at least there’s a peaceful lifestyle and then, well... having beautiful women helps, too.
7) It’s a contradictory country but therefore it’s picturesque. They appreciate other cultures and the innovations they can bring to Thailand. They respect immigrants (among whom us Europeans), and immigrants respect Thailand.
As I said, from 1996 to 2007 I lived abroad 7 months a year, and in Italy and Europe for the remaining 5 month. I worked 4 months in Hong Kong and China, 8 years in India and 11 years in Thailand.
Did you leave on your own, with your partner or with friends?partito da solo o con la partner o amici?
On my own.
What does your activity consist of?
The group is composed of a holding, AD ASIA Group, with its headquarters in Hong Kong. It offers financial consulting services focusing on property investments and developments in ASEAN countries. There are other 4 companies in Thailand:
1) AD ASIA MANUFACTURERS (Thailand) Co., Ltd - It offers restructuring, interior design and furnishings
2) AD ASIA Construction Co., Ltd - It offers constructions, civil and electromechanical engineering, architecture.
3) AD ASIA Consulting Co., Ltd - It offers comprehensive planning, business consulting, construction management, project management, property developments.
4) AD ASIA property Co., Ltd - It manages the property held by AD ASIA Group.
Initially I left with a 30-days visa on arrival, and every time I left Thailand to visit other Asian countries, then I re-entered with another 30-days visa. For a while I also had tourist visas, but as I set up a company I applied for a work permit right away, and then I was granted a one-year visa. At the beginning I relied on a Thai law expert, but now at AD ASIA Consulting we take care of these applications for others, if they involve the launch of a business and/or these people are employed by the group.
It’s like being on another planet! Here deals are settled cash, and there’s no credit unless it’s for short periods, in solid work relationships.
Here I work with competent, multi-ethnic companies, who operate following American and English criteria. They plan instead of improvising, they work methodically and professionally. Nobody (except for rare cases) writes an uncovered cheque, there is no procedure to apply for the settlement of a dishonored cheque, but if you write one you go to jail. The law is fairly quick compared to Italy, in two years and after three hearings a case is closed, there’s the English Common Law, therefore if you make a mistake you pay for it. There is no way a verdict can be reversed, where the aggrieved party becomes the accused and vice versa.
“Taxation is fair, for example the VAT rate is 7%, withholding tax rates are 3% or 5%, social contributions - inspired by the US social security system - are paid with a 5% rate by the company and a 5% rate by the worker. Income tax is 20%.
To obtain a construction permit you need between 30 and 60 days. To open a “Limited liability company” you need 15 days. The majority of management staff is foreign or Thai with a foreign background, while most Thais hold lower positions. The Chinese and Japanese are very present, but I would say the whole world is present in Thailand.
The sense of duty in the workplace is quite relative, we have different parameters in Italy. It’s difficult to explain, you have to experience it firsthand to understand it.
The unemployment rate is 1%, and sometimes the staff turnover can be exhausting for owners. They change jobs every years or even more often, but this is a symptom of high productivity.
The economy is solid, so much so that it can weather difficult periods caused by political crisis or natural disasters.
There hasn’t been a real crisis affecting daily life. The political crisis happened, and now the army is doing what politicians weren’t able to do in 10 years.
Thailand is a safe and not violent country. Of course there is always the exception that makes the rule, but criminality is almost non-existent.
How did you manage to integrate in an local environment fundamentally different from Italy?
I didn’t have any problems with Westerners. It took a little more with Thais, because they value you according to the professional position you represent, therefore the material aspect of it. As far as living together goes, everything is normal, in any case there are cultural differences: at the end of the day they’re Thais, and we are Westerners. Thai people can be weird and hard to “grasp”, they’re like smoke in the air and you can feel like you’re bouncing against a wall of indifference, but if you know them and you know how to deal with them, you understand that is part of Thai buddhism, which can teach us Westerners many things, like living more serenely with a smile on your face.
It depends on the points of view. I would say that here you’re more free, in Italy you’re not free anymore.
Here they produce, in Italy they don’t. They speak less and words are followed by actions.
Here taxes are low, and there are privatized services which work, while in Italy taxes are high and services are just not there, although they’re public and therefore already piad.
It’s hot throughout the year, and those who like hot weather can go to tropical destinations with very good deals. Here some values are missing, things that for us are the basis of education, but one can always surround themselves with people who share those values, in order to feel too isolated.
In Thailand there’s a wide choice of everything, you can eat with 1 euro as well as with 1,000 euros, in Italy you can’t go below some standards anymore.
Gasoline costs half as much, car insurance Kasko only a fourth of the Italian RCA, ditto for the stamp duty, there is no tax on property, and bureaucracy is simple.
Let’s stay that, as of today, 90 per cent of things in Thailand is positive, and only 10 per cent isn’t. In Italy it’s the opposite, 10 per cent positive and 90 per cent negative.
I would suggest they assess their skills beforehand, and then to rely on somebody who has been here for years and who is able to give advice, in order to avoid mistakes we all make when we think we can do everything on our own. I would suggest they listen to the experiences of those who have already gone through the setting-in stage.
Do you miss Italy? Or is it just a memory?
I consider Italy a memory. I don’t miss it, I don’t miss anything of it, also because my parents and my brother are starting to come regularly to Thailand.
What kind of job, business or investment do you think is more convenient for an Italian in Thailand?
Many, but it’s necessary to assess the person’s profile, and as a consulting company we can really make a difference, put them on the right path and assist them until they are able to walk on their own.
Do you know many Italians who live there? Do you hang out with them?
Yes, I know some but not many. Not all of them are genuine, they almost have a hint of envy which I’ve never liked.
It really depends on the person’s profile, again. In any case, Bangkok, remains the place that offers more business opportunities.
Andrea Dolcemascolo - Managing Director
AD ASIA CONSULTING CO.LTD
B1, 25th Floor, UM TOWER, 9/252 Ramkhamhaeng rd.
Suanluang, Suanluang, Bangkok 10250 Thailand
Luca Dolcemascolo - General Manager
AD ASIA Consulting Italia di L.D.
Mobile: +39 340 8420744
Tel:+39 06 36712824
Fax: +39 06 36712400
Palazzo Valadier, Piazza del Popolo 18, 00187 - Roma – Italy