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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 negotiating FTA w/ Peru
Thailand will press forward in negotiating the free trade area (FTA) agreement with Peru, hoping to promote the export sector and create gateways to Brazil and Argentina.
Indian business groups wary of Thai FTA
Under pressure from local industrialists who fear they are losing out to foreign competition, the Indian government is reviewing a number of free-trade pacts, including those pending with Thailand and Asean.
Thailand halts trade talks until new government
Thailand will suspend all bilateral free trade talks until a new civilian government is elected a year from now, Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram said on Wednesday, following last month’s coup.
Coup puts Indo-Thai free trade deal in doldrums
An ambitious free trade agreement (FTA) between India and Thailand may have been stalled indefinitely by the Sep. 19 military coup. The two countries were meant to renegotiate the FTA after elections in Thailand set for mid-October, but this process is now shrouded in uncertainty.
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.

    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.