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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

The ’hidden agenda’
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Somkid: FTA with Japan hinges on rule changes for farm goods
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FTA with Japan: who gains more?
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Ford Thailand objects to planned Thai-Japan FTA
The impact of a tentative free-trade agreement with Japan on the automobile industry’s import tariff structure may prompt the US-based giant Ford Motor Co. to reconsider planned investments in Thailand.
Japan-Thailand FTA: Tokyo settles for an easy and small trade deal.
Japan has reached a general accord for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand, a key trade and diplomatic partner in Asia. Expectations for a substantial and beneficial agreement were high, but the deal has ended up a deep disappointment because Japan took the line of least resistance.
FTA fine print remains a big hurdle
Bilateral free-trade agreements typically revolve around discussions of quotas and tariffs and the principle of market access for traders. But an even more crucial component is rules of origin. In the end, an agreement without clear, practical and fair rules is nothing but a can of food with no opener _ you know the food is in there, you just can’t eat it.
Long-lasting Thai-Japanese FTA negotiation concludes
The long-lasting negotiation for the Thai-Japanese free trade area (FTA) covering more than 7,000 product items has finally been wrapped up with an agreement to be signed in next April and effective in September 2006.
Thai-Japan Free Trade Agreement expected by next April
Despite a few sticky issues, the leader of the Thai negotiating team reckons the Thai-Japanese Free Trade Agreement could be ready to be signed by the two leaders next April.
METI chief plans late-July trip to strike Thai FTA
Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Shoichi Nakagawa will visit Thailand possibly on July 31 in a bid to strike a basic deal on a bilateral free-trade agreement in time for the end-of-July deadline set by the two countries.
Progress made in talks with Tokyo
Free-trade talks between Thailand and Japan may be edging toward a conclusion, thanks to better-than-expected results in the most recent round of discussions in Tokyo last week, according to a source close to the bilateral negotiations.