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 has suspended free trade talks with the United States and delayed signing a deal with Japan until after an April 2 election called by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, officials said on Wednesday.
Amidst the promises of positive benefits of FTAs to Thailand, more and more citizens are raising questions, especially in relation to the services and investment sectors.
When the former head of the Thai negotiating team, Nitya Pibulsonggram, was asked why the Thai-US trade deals must be kept confidential, he told journalists that he was asked by the US negotiation team to initial the agreements, but that he refused to do so. We asked US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce some questions concerning the confidentiality of the Free Trade Agreement.
Differences over pharmaceuticals could be overcome, but the countries are far from reaching a common understanding on biodiversity issues.
Although the local political situation has become heated, with rumours on dissolving the parliament prevaling in the country, the Thai-US negotiations will continue,
Naris Chaiyasoot, Director General of the Ministry of Finance’s Fiscal Policy Office, said.
A seminar heard yesterday that although US negotiators had asked Thailand to fully deregulate its financial services and allow US investors unrestricted stakes in the brokering and banking sectors, Bangkok was insisting that the sector was not ready to face direct competition.
Supara Janchitfah looks at the rules of the Thai-US FTA negotiation process and finds them more favourable to the American side.
Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Somkid Jatusripitak asked academics to keep an open mind on the proposed Thai-US Free Trade Area agreement, saying that the FTA would benefit the two countries equally.
The new Royal Plaza alliance of senators and civic groups has boosted the credibility of the movement to oust Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and produced an array of new issues from free trade to human rights violations and the plight of the rural poor
The National Economic and Social Advisory Council yesterday warned the prime minister not to let the immediate gains from opening trades with the US blind him to the latent risks of rushing into an economic partnership.
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.