U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement

U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement

Former President Bush and former Thai Prime Minister Shinawatra announced the intention to negotiate a U.S.-Thailand FTA on October 19, 2003 during President Bush’s state visit to Thailand.

In 2015, bilateral trade between the United States and Thailand was nearly $40 billion. An FTA could significantly boost trade and further strengthen an important strategic relationship.

Thailand is the United States’ 25th largest export market, with U.S. exports to Thailand totaling $11.2 billion. Thailand is the 21st largest export market for California. In 2015, California exported $1.7 billion in goods to Thailand.

The U.S. business community has formed the U.S. Thailand FTA Business Coalition. The role of the Coalition will be to lobby for a premium agreement, and to ensure U.S. business’ interests are well represented. It will also work to ensure that both negotiating parties stay focused on completing the agreement in good time, and then on passage of the agreement through required government processes. The Coalition also will be a leading source of educational information about the agreement, the importance of the U.S.-Thai relationship, and the benefits of an agreement for U.S. industrial, service and agriculture sectors.

History of the Negotiations

In October 2004, the U.S.-Thai FTA Coalition met with a delegation from the Thai Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Some of the main concerns expressed by the representatives from Thailand regarding the potential agreement were: market access for Thai textiles in the U.S. market, the effect of U.S. agricultural exports on Thai farmers, and the FTA negotiations necessitating change to current national laws.

The United States and Thailand have completed five rounds of negotiations towards a U.S.-Thai Free Trade Agreement. Positive steps were taken on issues including trade in services and foreign investment, according to an October 2005 report by the USTR. The last round of talks occurred in January 2006. Negotiators hoped to complete an agreement in 2006, but that was delayed due to a military coup in Thailand that began while Prime Minister Shinawatra was visiting the United States in September 2006. The U.S. has informed the interim government of Thailand that reinstating democracy is a precursor for continuing FTA negotiations. Further talks are on hold.

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