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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

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.
Thailand makes progress on FTA talks with Europe
Concrete progress is being made in negotiations between Thailand and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), with the talks focusing on the liberalization of trade in all commodities and services.
Thailand: Bilateral FTA deals pivotal to govt policy
The initiation of bilateral free-trade agreements with countries all around the world has become one of the foreign policy cornerstones of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s government.
Govt cautioned not to rush FTAs
Proponents and opponents of free-trade agreements stood firm Tuesday on their respective positions, while a government adviser warned against completing negotiations in haste.
ICC urges Thailand to go multilateral route
The international business community has called on Thailand to abandon its plans for bilateral deals and adopt instead the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) agenda of multilateral cooperation.


  • 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.