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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

TDRI pushes for fewer FTA restrictions and more pacts
Business leaders and academics recommend the new government ease rules and extend the coverage of current free-trade agreements as well as step up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.
Deals with Peru, Chile progressing
The delayed free-trade area agreement between Thailand and Peru is likely to take effect in November, while an FTA with Chile should be concluded by mid-2012, says the Commerce Ministry.
FTA pact’s product list under attack
The government is coming under increasing attack from activists for pushing ahead with EU-Thailand free trade agreement talks which include alcohol, tobacco and medicines.
Thai-Lao business blossoms
The value of cross-border trade between Thailand and Laos is forecast to reach 80 billion baht at the end of this year, as the Thai government is pursuing a new strategy to optimise free trade agreements.
Thailand-Peru FTA could be sealed next month
The Thai government will propose the Parliament to endorse a bilateral free trade area agreement with Peru next month in order to enhance the effectiveness of trade pacts this year, according to Thai Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai.
Thai cabinet approves draft of free trade agreement with Chile
The draft will be proposed for the approval of parliament before negotiations kick off.
China to replace US as Thailand’s main export market this year
The surge in Thai exports to China is attributed to China’s strong economic growth and the implementation of the China-ASEAN free trade agreement on January 1
CP urges firms to tap low tariffs under trade pacts
Thai entrepreneurs need to make the best use of tariff cuts under free trade agreements, says Charoen Pokphand Group, Thailand’s leading agricultural conglomerate.
FTAs to have minor impact
Thailand will not gain much from free trade agreements because of minimal exports between the agreeing parties, says Sethaput Suthiwart-narueput, an executive vice-president of Siam Commercial Bank.
Government plans safeguards for farmers
Thai authorities are taking precautions to shield businesses and farmers from the fall in farm product prices after tariffs are cut under the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) at the start of 2010.


  • 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.