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Attracting FDI through the spread of free trade agreements

ABSTRACT: Since the 1980s the pattern in Southeast Asia, and other developing nations and regions, has been to suppress and maintain authoritarian control over labour and trade unions in order to maintain “investor confidence” and FDI inflows. FTAs are often falsely associated with improved labour conditions, more jobs, and better pay, but the reality is often far removed from this promise. Ignoring the hard lessons Mexico has learned after ten years of free trade and increased market access under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Thailand, which has implemented an FTA with Australia, is forging ahead on FTA negotiations with the US, Japan and a number of other nations and, if implemented, the consequences could be felt not only by manufacturing, service, and agricultural workers in Thailand (among others), but also regionally as the Thailand-US FTA has a high potential for spill over effects. [12,359 words]

This article appears in "Asian Transnational Corporation Outlook 2004: Asian TNCs, Workers and the Movement of Capital" published by Asia Monitor Resource Centre, and a version will appear in the Journal of Contemporary Asia, volume 36, 2006.

 source: Thai Labour Campaign