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
After the sixth round of free-trade negotiations with the United States drew to a close yesterday, the Bank of Thailand said that Bangkok would continue to push for a gradual opening of its financial sector rather than within three years as the US has proposed.
The head of the US trade negotiating team yesterday expressed concern that Bangkok and Washington may not be able to wrap up free-trade agreement discussions by the agreed deadline. Speaking after concluding the sixth round of Thai-US FTA negotiations, Barbara Weisel, assistant US Trade Representative, said: “There’s some serious concern whether we can do that [finish the talks by May].”
A senior US trade official on Friday expressed concern about the slow progress being made in negotiations to establish a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand, where more than 10,000 demonstrators gathered this week to protest the pact.
The network of 11 civil society organisations which showed its opposition to the Thai-US Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations earlier this week in Chiang Mai Friday reaffirmed its intention to continue protesting the talks.
Intellectual property rights protection became the latest stumbling block in the current round of negotiations for a Thai-US Free Trade Agreement today, with Thailand complaining publicly about the Americans’ stand.
A cabinet minister said today that an actual free-trade agreement with the United States is still al long way off, and talks have not so far yielded any definite agreement. Tariff cut plans are still subject to further consultation.
If a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States is so great for us consumers, why is the telecom industry, which is controlled by our premier’s family, excluded from the deal? If Thailand had to join hands with other developing countries to fight for our people’s access to affordable life-saving medicines until the World Trade Organisation finally allowed it under the Doha Declaration, why is it that Mr Thaksin is so eager to ink a trade deal with the US that would tie our hands from doing so?
EGAT’s privatization and the US trade talks represent the most ambitious efforts of two of Thaksin’s core economic platforms: the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the proliferation of bilateral FTAs. So it is no surprise that both issues crystallize the wider debate on the state of democracy and the country’s development path.
The Thai-US free-trade talks hit a snag yesterday after the head Thai negotiator for intellectual-property rights declared demands by the US for Thailand to tighten up drug patenting as “unacceptable”.
Thai AIDS activists and their international allies are
seeking suspension of scheduled trade talks that threaten to undermine
Thailand’s lawful ability to produce, import/export, and market low-cost
generic versions of life-saving medicines.
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.