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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


Government urged to defer FTA deals with US and Japan
Thailand’s caretaker government has been urged to defer its conclusion of bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreements with the United States and Japan until a newly-elected administration takes office.
Court asked to throw out FTA with Australia
FTA opponents yesterday asked the Constitution Court to annul the Thai Australian Free Trade Area agreement (Tafta) on the ground that the Thaksin government entered into it unconstitutionally two years ago.
Thailand to include more products in FTA with India
Thailand hopes to increase the number of products in the Free Trade Agreement with India from the current 82 products.
Anti-FTA group urges govt to abandon FTAs
An activist group monitoring the Free Trade Area agreements between Thailand and other countries has urged the Government to stop negotiating now and give up plans to sign FTA accords with Japan and the United States.
Watchdog demands delay to talks
FTA Watch, a Thai civic group campaigning against free trade pacts, demanded an amendment to article 224 of Thailand’s constitution to clearly state that any bilateral trade deals be subject to parliament’s endorsement without conditions.
North Korean goods pose local threat
Cheaper products from North Korea’s Kaesong special economic zone, which is a part of the proposed Asean-South Korean free trade agreement, may flood into Thailand and hurt local producers, according to executives of the Board of Trade.
Poorest farmers will need more help
A failure to manage trade liberalisation and agricultural policy could make the financial plight of Thai farmers worse, warns Prapat Panyachatraksa, a former agriculture minister.
New TRT government to proceed with FTA talks
Thailand’s new Thai Rak Thai government will proceed with the negotiations of free trade agreements.
Thailand, Chile agree on need for free-trade pact study
Thailand and Chile have agreed to complete a feasibility study this year to help pave the way for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. Thailand and Colombia have also agreed that developing an FTA was a possibility.
IPO plans for state firms, FTAs face uncertain future as new election called
The dissolution of the House of Representatives has put the Thai government’s key economic policies - free-trade deals, the privatisation of state enterprises and investment in mega-projects - in limbo.

    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.