The US and Thailand started negotiations on a comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement in June 2004.
Like other recent bilateral free trade agreements with the US, the US-Thailand FTA will cover investment, services, government procurement, intellectual property, as well as agriculture. Many expect it to be modeled on the US-Singapore FTA.
The negotiations have attracted strong opposition and concern among many Thai social movements, farmers to people with HIV/AIDS. A broad civil society coalition, FTA Watch, was formed at the outset to closely monitor the process from a public interest perspective. (Likewise, business interests set up their own US-Thai FTA Coalition.) Under the banner of "sovereignty not for sale!", key issues of popular concern include access to medicine, GMOs in agriculture and patents on life.
The last round of talks took place in Chiang Mai in January 2006 with 10,000 people protesting in the streets and disrupting the meeting. Negotiations have not resumed since.
last update: May 2012
The heated debate over intellectual property is one of the sticking points in the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between Thailand and the United States, which are scheduled to resume next week.
Farm workers, HIV/Aids, poverty NGOs vow to disrupt event. The sixth round of free-trade talks with the United States next week in Chiang Mai will face the wrath about 10,000 protesters from 12 special-interest groups which have vowed to rally throughout the five-day meeting.
Eleven civic groups plan demonstrations at the venue where the Thai and US governments will hold the sixth round of FTA negotiation next week, their leaders said Thursday.
Thai finance officials will for the first time make an offer to open up the country’s financial services, which should make or break the proposed Thai-US free-trade agreement (FTA) during talks next week, says a Thai finance source.
The US-Thailand FTA negotiations are of interest to Congress because (1) an
agreement would require passage of implementing legislation to go into effect; (2)
an agreement could increase U.S. exports of goods, services, and investment, with
particular benefits for agricultural exports; and (3) an agreement could increase
competition for U.S. import-competing industries such as textiles and apparel and
light trucks, thereby raising the issue of job losses.
Aids patients are unlikely to gain access to cheaper drugs after the free trade agreement between Thailand and the United States is signed, as the planned Thai-US FTA is likely to protect only American patented drugs.
The latest round of bilateral free trade negotiations between Thailand and the United States in London hit a serious snag over how much to liberalise the sensitive finance sector, one of the negotiators said.
Dr. Narongchai Akraseranee, chairman of the Working Group on FTA Negotiations, reaffirms that Thailand will not speed up the opening of its financial sector because domestic players are not ready for such competition. The Working Group is also concerned about possible capital outflows once liberalisation frees up deposit transactions.
One of the books the Thai Prime Minister suggested his cabinet members read was “As the Future Catches You” by Juan Enriquez, a Mexican writer. The book’s contents relate to the fact that countries need to catch up with the development of biotechnology. Otherwise they will be alienated and left behind.
Thai negotiators could ultimately be forced to accept a "negative list" approach in negotiating the Thailand-US free trade area agreement, according to Pongpanu Svetarunvra, deputy director-general of the Fiscal Policy Office. Under a negative list approach, all sectors and services will be liberalised except for those explicitly stated in the agreement.
A US campaign website on the Thai-US FTA
A coalition of activists, lawyers, NGOs, social movements and labour groups monitoring the US-Thailand FTA negotiations.