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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

Watchdog demands delay to talks
FTA Watch, a Thai civic group campaigning against free trade pacts, demanded an amendment to article 224 of Thailand’s constitution to clearly state that any bilateral trade deals be subject to parliament’s endorsement without conditions.
North Korean goods pose local threat
Cheaper products from North Korea’s Kaesong special economic zone, which is a part of the proposed Asean-South Korean free trade agreement, may flood into Thailand and hurt local producers, according to executives of the Board of Trade.
Poorest farmers will need more help
A failure to manage trade liberalisation and agricultural policy could make the financial plight of Thai farmers worse, warns Prapat Panyachatraksa, a former agriculture minister.
New TRT government to proceed with FTA talks
Thailand’s new Thai Rak Thai government will proceed with the negotiations of free trade agreements.
Thailand, Chile agree on need for free-trade pact study
Thailand and Chile have agreed to complete a feasibility study this year to help pave the way for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. Thailand and Colombia have also agreed that developing an FTA was a possibility.
IPO plans for state firms, FTAs face uncertain future as new election called
The dissolution of the House of Representatives has put the Thai government’s key economic policies - free-trade deals, the privatisation of state enterprises and investment in mega-projects - in limbo.
Thai service sector must adapt to FTA challenges
Economists at the KASIKORN Research Centre (KRC) on Sunday urged Thailand’s service sector to adapt if it plans to survive stiff competition caused by free trade area (FTA) agreements Thailand has signed with other countries.
FTAs get new moniker
Due to growing sentiment in Thailand against free trade agreements (FTAs), the government plans to rename all bilateral free trade pacts to “economic partnership agreements”, in a bid to divert attention from free trade and avoid further intense protests.
Thailand prepares to expand talks on Thai-India FTA agreements beginning in March
Thailand prepares to expand its FTA agreements with India from the original 82 items, after managing to open FTA areas with Japan.
Sondhi alleges Thaksin signs FTA with Australia, China to benefit his IP Star
Sondhi Limthongkul, founder of the Manger Group, alleged that Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra signed free trade agreement contracts with Australia and China with ulterior motive to benefit telecom businesses of his family.


  • 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.