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
Thailand should be more aggressive in its response to the US push for environmental and labour protection under the bilateral free trade area (FTA) agreement, a seminar sponsored by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) was told.
On liberalising services and investment, Thailand insists on adopting a "positive list" approach, where only those sectors explicitly outlined in the agreement would be opened. The US insists on a "negative list", under which all sectors are on the table except those listed as sensitive.
Thailand is preparing briefing papers for the technical round of the US-Thailand free trade area (FTA) agreement talks that will make clear the country will not open satellite-based international telecom services or direct broadcasting in the near future.
The United States is very likely to ask Thailand to further open its market for beef under the two countries’ planned free trade area (FTA) agreement, in order to stay competitive with rival Australia.
There are signs that many Americans are becoming more unwilling to bear the burdens of free trade.
While United States trade negotiators seek to strengthen intellectual property protection under the proposed Thai-US free trade area agreement, Thailand is raising the issue of genetic resources and ways to guard against biopiracy.
The US is currently the top supplier to Thailand of agricultural products and the US-Thai FTA is expected "to further open and diversify sales for these and other products, such as beef and pork, to this major market for US farmers and ranchers," a US Department of Commerce statement said.
Questions regarding opening up the market for sugar imports was a feature of Monday’s teleconference involving Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and members of the Thailand delegation.
Negotiators and staff members working on a free trade agreement for Thailand and the United States spent the week dining on Montana beef, eating Montana grain products and enjoying Great Falls’ hospitality.
Even though potential commercial gains are expected from this FTA agreement, domestic industries and US companies are equally sceptical of the legislative changes in Thailand.
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.