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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

Japanese NGOs join Thai protest
Sixteen Japanese non-government organisations have joined the protest by Thai activists against the Thailand-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) by urging their government to remove tariff reductions for hazardous waste from the pact.
Activists want waste provisions to be removed from agreement
Activists have called on Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly to remove trade in waste and micro-organism patenting from the Japan-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Campaigners call for caution, transparency in free trade deal with Japan
Critics of the proposed Japan Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement have warned the Thai government not to rush the draft free trade agreement through the National Legislative Assembly.
Thai-Japan free trade pact set for legislative assembly hearing
The Cabinet gave a greenlight to the proposed Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) Tuesday, paving the way for the bill to be sent to the National Legislative Assembly for further scrutiny.
FTA sparks toxic waste dump fears
Greenpeace activists appealed to Tokyo yesterday to terminate a clause in the Thai-Japanese free trade agreement (FTA) which makes it easier for Japan to export toxic waste to Thailand. Under the FTA, tariffs on waste will be eliminated to help Japan’s waste exporters, the environmental group said.
FTA deal with Japan would likely be signed by interim government
Despite criticism over its possible negative impacts, the Thai government plans to proceed with the Thai-Japanese Free Trade Area agreement, saying the pact would likely be signed before this interim government’s term expires.
Thai-Japan FTA: Govt warned again not to rush into any trade deals
The Thai Foreign Ministry’s plan for cabinet acknowledgement today of the proposed free trade deal with Japan has raised questions from critics, including the National Economic and Social Council, which called for adequate information and time for the people and the country’s legislative body to study its impact.
Thai-Japan FTA an important test
This week, the Thai Foreign Ministry is expected to ask the Cabinet to consider whether to approve the draft Thai-Japanese free trade agreement (FTA). Inevitably, questions will crop up regarding the legitimacy of an interim government and a non-elected people’s assembly to pass an international trade agreement.
Thai-Japan free trade pact allows toxic dumping, Greenpeace warns
Environmental protection group Greenpeace on Friday warned Thailand that its pending free trade agreement with Japan could pave the way for the dumping of toxic waste and hazardous chemical into the kingdom.
Govt wants trade deal signed during anniversary celebration
The interim Thai government is looking to the 120th anniversary of Thai-Japanese diplomatic relations next year as a possible time to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan, Deputy Foreign Minister Sawanit Kongsiri said yesterday.