The Japanese and Thai governments started exploring a possible bilateral FTA in 2001-2002, but official negotiations didn’t start until February 2004. They concluded their talks in April 2007 and the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) came into force on 1 November 2007.
The FTA is comprehensive, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights, agriculture, competition policy, etc.
It was strongly opposed by social movements both in Thailand and Japan. Thai groups mobilised against the FTA’s provisions on patenting life forms, toxic wastes and investment. One special concern was that the Japanese would take advantage of the deal not to ship Thai healthworkers to Japan (as under Japan’s FTAs with the Philippines and Indonesia) but to operate an exclusive health facility in Thailand, for Japanese people, who would be flown in to avail of the best medical personnel Thailand has to offer — who would then be unavailable to treat poorer Thai citizens. A major row also erupted around the legalities of Thailand’s interim military regime pushing through the ratification and entry into force of the deal during their hold on the country after the September 2006 coup. Japanese groups mobilised particularly on the potential of the deal to increase Japan’s exports of toxic waste to Thailand.
last update: May 2012
Photo: Paul the Seeker / CC BY 2.0
A free trade agreement between Japan and Thailand could damage the attractiveness of the kingdom as an investment destination for high-technology auto-parts manufacturers from Japan with the introduction of a zero import-tariff rate, according to the Thai Auto-parts Manufacturers Association (Tapma).
The military-installed Thai government is entering into a risky new battle with farmer’s groups and the anti-FTA movement by pressing ahead with the Thai-Japan free trade agreement. Thousands of farmers, environmental activists and medical patients now plan to stage a mass protest next month against the government’s pro-FTA policy.
Despite an earlier announcement that all signing and negotiating of free trade agreements would be halted, the government of Gen Surayud Chulanont bit its tongue yet again, with the issuing of a cabinet resolution on Feb 20 stating its readiness to go ahead with the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA).
The National Human Rights Commission and FTA Watch yesterday rebuked the Thai government for endorsing the text of the Japan-Thailand free trade agreement without revising the 940-page deal thoroughly. FTA Watch said it would consult with others opposing the agreement to stage a major rally against the interim government if it rushed into signing the deal.
The Thai cabinet yesterday instructed officials negotiating the Thai-Japanese Free Trade Agreement not to sign any deal without further talks with Tokyo to clear the air on issues like toxic waste imports and the patenting of micro-organisms.
A highly anticipated Thailand-Japan free-trade agreement (FTA) has hit an unexpected environmental snag, as Thai activists protest a provision in the draft agreement that would allow Japan to export to and dump in Thailand unlimited amounts of the hazardous and toxic waste it generates.
Khao-Kwan Foundation chairman Day-cha Siripatra said the country would lose several hundred billion baht a year if the government allowed Japan to patent micro-organisms.
Despite the Thai government’s intense effort to press ahead with the draft free trade agreement with Japan, appointed members of the National Legislative Assembly remain divided as to its pros and cons.
The Thai Foreign Ministry is lobbying hard for the National Legislative Assembly’s support for a free trade area (FTA) agreement with Japan
Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly will debate the controversial Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement on Thursday.