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In October 2003, Australia and Thailand finalised negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement. The text was formally signed by the two countries in July 2004 and came into force on 1 January 2005.

It was Thailand’s first FTA negotiated with an industrialised country and its first "comprehensive" FTA. This means it covers not only trade in goods, but also trade in services, protection of intellectual property and new privileges for investors.

It was Australia’s second FTA with an ASEAN country. (Singapore came first.) It promised Australian companies increased export opportunities in several sectors, such as dairy products and motor vehicles, and new inroads into Thailand’s very large and growing services economy.

The Thailand-Australia deal, or TAFTA as it is sometimes called, has had negative impacts on Thailand, especially in the fisheries and agricultural sectors.

Australia has banned Thai shrimp in the guise of food safety concerns and slapped new tariffs on Thai tuna that exceeded the deal’s quota. Additionally, many reports show that the increase in Australian dairy imports has put many Thai dairy farmers out of business. In 2011, the Thai government lobbied Australia to make it easier for food exports – and Thai chefs - to enter the country under TAFTA.

last update: May 2012
Photo: Mr.Niwat Tantayanusorn,Ph.D./CC BY 2.0

Thai trade deal to be challenged
Australia’s booming trade relations with Thailand are in doubt as a constitutional court challenge against the countries’ free trade pact looms in Bangkok.
Australian businesses reap rewards of Thai free trade agreement
The Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) has benefited Australian companies since it began in January through expanded opportunities and increased market access, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile, said.
Free trade agreements draw flak
Thailand and Australia - two countries at the forefront of a regional proliferation of bilateral free trade agreements - will be worth watching at the World Trade Organization talks starting in Hong Kong on December 13.
FTA boosts Thai-Australian trade by nearly 50% in first 10 months of 2005
The value of bilateral trade between Thailand and Australia soared nearly 50% during the first 10 months of 2005, compared to the corresponding period of last year, thanks to the free trade area (FTA) agreement signed and implemented by the two countries one year ago.
Big changes ahead in world trade
In Thailand, FTA-mania under the administration of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is likely to continue in 2005.
Open Letter to the Government and the People of Australia
Regarding the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Thailand conflicting the provisions of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2540 (1997)
Milking Thailand: The Thai-Australia Free Trade Agreement
In Thailand, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) debates were heated. Farmers and critics claim that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government sold out small farmers to their own big business interests. They took to the streets in protest while Thaksin lambasted them and obscured negotiation details.
Senate debate begins on Thai FTA deal
Debate has begun in the Senate on laws enabling the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement to take effect from next year.
Thai dairy farmers make U-turn on FTA plan
Key dairy farmers are making a U-turn in their FTA strategy and are now seeking financial, technical and marketing assistance from the big players Australia and New Zealand.
FTA BACKLASH: Farmers petition the King
A leading farming group says it has petitioned His Majesty the King to call on the government to withdraw milk and dairy products from Thailand’s free-trade agreement (FTA) with Australia.