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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


Thailand: Restore basic civil rights, NGOs urge
Thailand’s new NGO Network for Political and Social Reform says it wants the military-led Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy and the interim government to scrap free-trade agreements and the privatisation of state enterprises.
Democrats outline plans for trade and investment
Trade and investment will be an integral part of the Democrat Party’s economic policies to convince the private sector of Thailand’s sustainable development.
All FTAs are not created equal
Thai exporters and importers have benefited from the free-trade agreements with Australia and India but reaped fewer benefits from Asean’s FTA with China, according to a survey by the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI).
TDRI moots fund to support the ’victims’ of free-trade pacts
The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) has proposed that the government collect an adjustment fund from the beneficiaries of free-trade agreements in order to compensate those who suffer in the early stages of their implementation.
Farmers must have a say in talks on free trade agreements
Thai farmers and small-scale manufacturers should be allowed to participate in negotiations for free trade agreements (FTAs) to ensure their survival, says a Khao Sod editorial.
Indo-Thai FTA unlikely to take off this year
It seems unlikely that India and Thailand would graduate to a full-fledged free trade agreement (FTA) this year despite the successful implementation of the early harvest programme. The political turmoil in Thailand leading to elections in mid-October coupled with the uncertainty in FTA talks between India and Asean has pushed the India-Thai FTA talks to the backburner.
Lost in statistics
The figures show Thais are winning with free trade - yet many of the nation’s small farmers, struggling just to scrape by, are looking to lessons learned around the world.
PM defends FTA agreements
Defending himself and his government against criticisms of free trade area (FTA) agreements Thailand negotiated with foreign countries, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday said that the FTAs had helped boost trade and increase the country’s exports.
Thailand reaps Bt9 billon trade deficit from FTAs
Thailand is suffering a nearly Bt9 billion (about US$239.5 million) trade deficit chalked up between October last year and May this year as a result of the free trade agreements (FTAs) it has entered with China, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Anti-FTA bodies join forces against US deals
Thailand’s anti-FTA movements have formed an alliance with counterparts in other countries including South Korea, Costa Rica and Colombia against US efforts to strike bilateral trade agreements across the globe.

    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.