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Thailand

FTAs became a big social and political issue in Thailand ever since former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra agreed, in 2003, to negotiate a comprehensive bilateral deal with the United States. A broad multisectoral coalition in Thailand, called FTA Watch, monitors and mobilises around Thailand’s FTA policies quite frequently, given the deep-cutting and far-reaching nature of these deals for Thai society.

Apart from the Thai-US talks, Thailand has signed a limited FTA with Laos (1991) and another with China (agriculture only, 2003), framework agreements with Bahrain (as stepping stone toward an FTA with the GCC, 2002), Peru (2003) and India (2003), and fairly comprehensive FTAs with Australia (2003), New Zealand (2005) and Japan (2007).

Since 2006 and the current political crisis, Thailand’s pace of FTA negotiations has slowed down. (The government is technically still in negotiation with the US, EFTA, India, Peru and Papua New Guinea, while there has been talk of further deals with Chile, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa and Canada.) Meanwhile, civil society groups have insisted that the new Thai constitution include a provision, in Section 190, that requires Parliamentary ratification and much more public information about all FTAs that the Thai cabinet considers going into.

Regionally, Thailand is member of ASEAN and therefore part of that bloc’s FTA dealings with China, Korea, India, Australia/New Zealand and the EU. It is also part of BIMSTEC and, under Thaksin at least, was the protagonist pushing for greater trade and investment integration in the Mekong region under ACMECS, a framework for cooperation between Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

last update: May 2012


Thai service sector must adapt to FTA challenges
Economists at the KASIKORN Research Centre (KRC) on Sunday urged Thailand’s service sector to adapt if it plans to survive stiff competition caused by free trade area (FTA) agreements Thailand has signed with other countries.
FTAs get new moniker
Due to growing sentiment in Thailand against free trade agreements (FTAs), the government plans to rename all bilateral free trade pacts to “economic partnership agreements”, in a bid to divert attention from free trade and avoid further intense protests.
Thailand prepares to expand talks on Thai-India FTA agreements beginning in March
Thailand prepares to expand its FTA agreements with India from the original 82 items, after managing to open FTA areas with Japan.
Sondhi alleges Thaksin signs FTA with Australia, China to benefit his IP Star
Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the Manger Group, alleged that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra signed free trade agreement contracts with Australia and China with ulterior motive to benefit telecom businesses of his family.
International trade, health and children’s rights - Thailand
in December 2005 3D published a country briefing entitled “International trade, health and children’s rights - Thailand” which raises concerns regarding Thailand’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations and their impact on children’s rights.
Customs Department tax targets expected to drop in 2006
The Customs Department’s tax targets are expected to fall next year, due to Free Trade Area dealings between Thailand and a number of foreign countries.
Thailand’s new FTAs and its trade policies post-Asia crisis: an assessment
How credible is Thailand’s FTA policy? What can be done to improve it?
Free trade, but not fair trade
Early results of the free trade agreements (FTAs) Thailand made with China, Australia, New Zealand and India are quite worrying for the country.
Chile next in line for FTA
Thailand and Chile have agreed to conduct a joint study on a potential free-trade agreement (FTA) in order to establish bilateral access to regional markets.
Financial institutions urged to resist seizure by foreign investors
Local financial institutions need to adjust themselves to resist possible business seizure by foreign investors in a wake of the liberalization of trade with many countries in the world, according to a top banker.

    Links


  • FTA Watch (Thailand)
    A broad social coalition monitoring, analysing and mobilising around the Thai government’s FTA strategies.
  • Thai FTA
    A Thai government website, produced by the Department of Trade Negotiations, on Thailand’s different FTA negotiations.