U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement

U.S.-Thailand FTA Overview
U.S.-Thailand FTA News
U.S.-Thailand FTA & Agriculure
U.S.-Thailand FTA & Labor
U.S.-Thailand FTA & Access to Medicines

U.S.-Thailand FTA Overview
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has begun negotiations with Thailand for a bilateral “free trade” and investment agreement, the prospects for which are already highly controversial in both countries. The two countries hope to finish negotiations next year.

In the U.S., the agreement would threaten manufacturing workers producing trucks and cars, as well as rice, sugar, chicken, and other farmers, and certain sectors of the seafood industry – especially shrimp. On the Thai side, where approximately 1.6% of adults are estimated to be infected with HIV or AIDS, civil society groups have already begun to campaign against the expected damage the deal would wreak on AIDS/HIV patients’ and other medical patients’ ongoing access to affordable medicines. The agreement may also meet with strong opposition in Thailand due to its potential impact on Thai sovereignty, including the possible restructuring of Thai laws that have traditionally restricted foreign ownership of property. Businesses in Thailand that profit off of “pirated” American products like CD’s, DVD’s, and software stand to lose under the agreement as the U.S. is demanding that Thailand enact tough new copyright protections. Environmentalists fear the effect the FTA could have on Thailand’s valuable natural resources, home to several endangered species.

Congressional critics also question the wisdom of negotiating a trade agreement with Thailand when the current administration of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pursues objectionable policies in several areas. Some Members of Congress have criticized Thaksin’s close relationship with neighboring Burma’s military dictatorship. Thaksin met with international condemnation from the United Nations and other institutions, governments, and human rights monitors due to an ongoing crack down on narcotics that has left as many as 3,000 dead. Thaksin has also been criticized for consolidating a significant portion of the media under his control.

Among the corporations advocating for the trade and investment agreement are Unocal, General Motors, and Nike.

U.S.-Thailand FTA News
FTA Talks Revived AFP, June 25, 2008
Japan aide urges U.S. Congress approve Korea trade deal Reuters, December 7, 2007
Thailand Delays Free Trade Moves Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2006
Thailand Suspends US Free Trade Talks Due to Poll Reuters, March 1, 2006
Thai Trade Negotiator With US Resigns After Criticism Associated Press, January 19, 2006
Thousands Protest Against US-Thai Trade Talks Reuters, January 9, 2006
10,000 Expected to Protest US Free Trade Talks The Nation (Thailand), January 6, 2006
Technical Discussions Dominate US-Thai FTA Round Bridges, October 5, 2005
Thailand Says Trade Pact Could Take Time Associated Press, September 21, 2005

US & Thailand Press for Trade Pact Bloomberg, September 20, 2005
Trade Pacts May Lead to Legal Changes Bangkok Post, January 25, 2005
Academics Called for Temporary Suspension of FTA Talks with US TNA, November 13, 2004
‘FTA Offers More Risks Than Gains’ The Nation (Thailand), September 27, 2004
FTA Talks with US on Track, Says Thai Minister The Straits Times, September 22, 2004
Thailand’s Free Trade Tactics Under Fire Asia Times, July 7, 2004
U.S., Thailand Eye Free Trade Washington Times, July 2, 2004
300 Thais Protest Against FTAs Herald Sun, June 28, 2004
FTA Opponents Plan Rally The Nation (Thailand), June 28, 2004
Reaching Trade Pact with US No Simple Task The Nation (Thailand), June 28, 2004

Govt Could Be Sued If US Gets Its ‘Usual FTA’ The Nation (Thailand), June 25, 2004
US-Thai Relations: FTA with Thailand Opposed The Nation (Thailand), April 3, 2004
Calls for Rethink on Privatisation, FTAs The Nation (Thailand), March 31, 2004
U.S. Firms Ally to Forge FTA with Kingdom Agence France Presse, March 25, 2004
Senators Want to Screen FTA Deals The Nation (Thailand), March 18, 2004
Bush Plans Commerce Talks with Thais Washington Times, February 13, 2004

U.S.-Thailand FTA & Agriculure
Oxfam Warns of FTA Blow to Thai Farmers Bangkok Post, April 12, 2006
Thai Farmers Fear Free Trade Deal With US Inter Press Services, January 6, 2006
Protests Halt Thailand’s GM Crop Trials Agence France Presse, September 1, 2004
Thais Lift Ban on GMO Planting, Will Regulate Trials Reuters, August 23, 2004
US-Thai Free Trade Talks Clouded By Patent, Ag Concerns Associated Press, June 21, 2004
Lawsuit Accuses Cargill of Bribery in Thai Venture Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2004
American Sugar Alliance Vows Opposition to Thailand FTA American Sugar Alliance, May 4, 2004
Sugar Representative Tells USTR: Address Sugar Subsidies in WTO, Not in Thailand FTA U.S. Sugar Industry Group, March 30, 2004

U.S.-Thailand FTA & Labor
Thai Labour Campaign
Thai Police Rescue 18 Laotian Girls From Sweatshop Associated Press, September 15, 2004
Workers Stage ‘Olympics’ to Protest Sportswear Industry Abuses Associated Press, August 8, 2004
Angry Thai factory owners are ‘out to kill me’ says a Burmese labor leader in Thailand The Irrawaddy, June 2004
U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement ALF-CIO, March 11, 2004
Support Block On Thailand Free Trade Agreement Action alert from the United Auto Workers
Congressional Resolutions Support American Automotive Jobs United Auto Workers, March 3, 2004

U.S.-Thailand FTA & Access to Medicines
Thailand: Drug War Darkens AIDS Success Human Rights Watch, July 8, 2004

Articles & Statements
Free Trade with US Will Hurt Health Care Inter Press Service, January 31, 2006
Thailand Must Protect Access to Medicines Medecins Sans Frontieres January 11, 2006
Democrats Join FTA Critics Bangkok Post, January 8, 2005
Thailand to Provide Cheap Anti-Aids Drugs Agence France Presse, October 4, 2004
Call to Bar Medicines From Pact The Nation (Thailand), September 10, 2004
France Accuses the U.S. of AIDS Blackmail Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2004
FTA with U.S. Threatens Cheap Thai Aids Drugs The Straits Times, July 13, 2004
‘Patent-owners should stand down for poor’ The Nation (Thailand), July 9, 2004
Freer Trade Weakens Access to HIV/AIDS Drugs Inter Press Service, May 21, 2004
Thailand Angers Hollywood P2Pnet, April 5, 2004
Thai and U.S. AIDS Activists Against Bilateral Trade Deal Health GAP, October 19, 2003