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China-Thailand

The China-Thailand FTA was signed in June 2003 and came into effect four months later in October 2003. It is an "early harvest agreement" on farm trade alone, whereby both countries opened their agricultural markets before the broader China-ASEAN FTA comes into force in 2010. Under the deal, tariffs for 188 types of fruits and vegetables were cut to zero overnight.

The China-Thailand FTA has had very strong impacts in Thailand, amply documented by NGOs, farmers’ groups, academics and the press. Many Thai garlic, longan and other fruit and vegetable producers, especially in the North, lost their livelihoods because they could not compete against the cheap flood of Chinese imports. In fact, despite government reassurances, only Thai cassava exports went up. Investigations showed that Thai produce entering China was left to rot at point of entry, by local warehouse operators, so that it could not actually be commercialised.

Cheap Chinese fruits and vegetables, in the meanwhile, were criticised by Thai people for their high pesticide residue levels. But this actually led the two governments to adopt joint private food safety standards (Thai-China GAP), providing yet another boost to corporate farming and further concentration.

In all, the China-Thailand FTA has not benefitted small farmers on either side of the border. It has only been favourable for businessmen who control the trade and are able to use it to expand their contract farming operations, such as Thailand’s (ethnic Chinese-owned) Charoen Pokphand Group.

last update: May 2012


Chinese food makes Thais uneasy
A free-trade agreement (FTA) that Thailand signed with China a little over two years ago has begun to worry politicians and academics, who say it has proved disastrous for the Southeast Asian country’s farmers.
Chine, Thailand to wipe out trade obstables
Thailand and China have begun a joint meeting in the former’s northern city of Chiang Rai to strengthen ties and wipe out trade obstacles, hoping to increase bilateral trade under the free trade area (FTA) framework.
Chiang Rai meeting probes Thai-China trade barriers
Thailand and China have begun a joint meeting here to strengthen ties and remove trade barriers, hoping to increase bilateral trade under the free trade area (FTA) framework.
Few trade gains from ’early harvest’: Sino-Thai pact misunderstood
Tariff reductions on fruit and vegetables agreed on two years ago between Thailand and China have provided little benefit to the Thai economy.
Better China links needed
Local businesses are being urged to set up distribution centres in China to take better advantage of the country’s free trade area (FTA) pact with Thailand.
Thai-Chinese FTA leads to soaring bilateral trade
Trade between Thailand and China has shot up to 24 billion baht ($60 million) over the first 20 months of the enforcement of the bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreement, with Thailand holding the balance of trade by over 11 billion baht ($27.5 million), according to the Director-General of the Department of Foreign Trade, Rachane Potjanasuntorn.
FTA prompts boost in logistics cooperation with China
Thailand is poised to open at least four new consulates in China, and is accelerating the development of logistics operations with China in anticipation of the birth of the Chinese-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade aAea in 2010, Deputy Foreign Minister Preecha Laohapongchana revealed today.
New requirement imposed on fruit exports to China
Fruit exporters seeking to enjoy tariff-free access to China must ensure that their products come from orchards certified by local authorities, starting on May 1.
Mandatory checks on Chinese fruit
The Agriculture Ministry will soon require selected lots of apples and pears from China to pass mandatory tests for chemical residues, pests, micro-organisms and heavy metals before they can enter the country.