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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


Critics urged to look at long-term gains
Foreign direct investment is poised to increase steadily in the near future as a result of new free-trade agreements, according to Somkid Jatusripitak, a deputy prime minister and commerce minister.
Interview: Thailand aims to further enhance Thailand-China strategic partnership
The Thailand-China relations have been developed in a positive and constructive way since the diplomatic ties between the two countries were established 30 years ago, and now it is time to push it to a higher plane, said Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra before his departure to China on the occasion of 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.
Thai AIDS activists fear losing cheap drugs in free trade talks with Japan, US
As Thailand prepares for new rounds of free trade talks with Japan and the United States, AIDS activists are voicing increasing concern that patients here could lose access to cheap, life-prolonging drugs.
Professions brace for FTA impact
Businesses such as cars, steel, textiles and telecoms may grab the headlines in the continuing debate over free trade area (FTA) agreements, but members of many professions in Thailand are also preparing for changes once markets for their services open.
Thaksin asks India to speed up FTA deal
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra stressed speeding up the process of finalising the Free Trade Area agreement between Thailand and India during his one-day working visit to the Indian capital on Friday.
Trade to top Thai PM’s India visit
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will arrive in India Friday on a one-day visit to find ways of pushing a free trade deal that will strengthen the growing trade relations between the two countries.
Plan for FTA with Islamabad
Thailand and Pakistan have agreed in principle to draw up a free trade area (FTA) agreement under the Economic Comprehensive Partnership between the two nations.
Open up FTA talks to wider participation
Free trade area agreements made between Thailand and some foreign trade partners have caused a lot of concern and unhappiness among farmers and business operators.
FTAs key to accessing new markets
Despite the pitfalls and opportunities inherent in FTAs, they are sweeping the world and will continue growing as long as the World Trade Organisation is unable to coordinate comprehensive tariff reductions worldwide, experts said at a Bangkok seminar yesterday. Thus, Thai exporters were advised to try to work within the confines of bilateral and regional pacts.
Thailand: Govt pushes ahead with EFTA trade liberalization talks
The Thai Ministry of Commerce is pressing ahead with plans to establish a free trade area (FTA) with Europe, amid hopes that it could boost trade by more than 15 percent each year.

    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.