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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
Photo: FTA Watch

Thai food exports to reach Bt600 billion
Thailand’s food exports are expected to increase by 7.8 per cent from last year to Bt600 billion this year and to further rise by 10 per cent next year due to the free trade area (FTA) agreements and an increased demand for products as a result of global warming, according to industry executives.
India FTA likely by December
India and Thailand plan to finally sign a free-trade agreement by the end of this year, which could bring an end to talks that have dragged on for years
Fine-tooth comb needed for clauses
Article 190 of Thailand’s junta-sponsored draft constitution deals with six paragraphs on FTAs. On the surface, they appear to be a triumph for anti-FTA groups such as FTA Watch. There’s a catch, however.
Surayud off on a busy India tour
Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont and Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh are to sign pacts on Tuesday on energy and culture, while speeding up talks on a free trade deal that could be signed next month.
Thai-Indian FTA ’in six weeks’
Thailand and India expect to complete negotiations on cutting duties on goods and services and sign a free-trade agreement by next month, according to Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet.
Krirk-krai expects to ink India deal by July
Thailand and India expect to complete negotiations on cutting duties on goods and services and sign a free-trade agreement by July, according to Commerce Minister Krirk-krai Jirapaet.
Thai-Korean trade talks hung up on rice
Thailand and South Korea will continue to work toward a bilateral free-trade agreement, according to Nitya Pibulsonggram, the minister of foreign affairs. Trade talks between the two countries were now focused on cutting tariffs for rice and fruit, two key Thai exports.
FTA Watch wants charter to curb govt
Thai activist group FTA Watch has called on the Constitution Drafting Assembly to include clauses that oblige the government to seek public and parliamentary endorsement before signing international agreements such as FTAs.
FTAs ’will hurt small farmers’
The Thai government should come up with concrete measures to assist small-scale farmers, who are likely to be adversely affected by bilateral free-trade agreements. Otherwise they will be forced to go out of business. This is the view of a Commerce Ministry official who has been involved in several bilateral trade negotiations.
Call to lay down rules for signing treaties
The draft constitution has failed to fix weaknesses in the state’s endorsement of international treaties, including free trade agreements (FTAs), civic groups and legal experts say. Article 186 regarding the signing of international agreements failed to say that the government must seek parliamentary backing before signing any international pact, they said.


  • 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.