In 2015, bilateral trade between the United States and Thailand amounted to nearly $40 billion. A free trade agreement could significantly boost trade and further strengthen an important strategic relationship. Critics of Congress also doubt the wisdom of negotiating a trade deal with Thailand if the current government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra pursues a shocking policy in several areas. Some members of Congress criticized Thaksin`s close relationship with the military dictatorship of neighboring Burma. Thaksin has been the subject of international condemnation by the United Nations and other institutions, governments and human rights monitors for the fight against drugs, which has claimed up to 3,000 lives. Thaksin was also criticized for consolidating a significant part of the media under his control. 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 of which are already highly controversial in both countries. The two countries hope to conclude the negotiations next year. The United States and Thailand began negotiations in June 2004 for a bilateral comprehensive free trade agreement. The U.S. business community founded the FTA American Business Coalition. The role of the coalition will be to work towards a bonus agreement and to ensure that the interests of the U.S.
economy are well represented. It will also work to ensure that both parties to the negotiations focus on concluding the agreement in a timely manner and on adopting the agreement through the necessary government processes. The coalition will also be a major source of educational information on the agreement, the importance of U.S.-Thailand relations and the benefits of an agreement for U.S. industry, services and agriculture. In October 2004, the U.S.-Thai Free Trade Coalition met with a delegation from the Thai Foreign Affairs Committee. Among the main concerns expressed by Thai officials about the potential agreement were: access to the U.S. market for Thai textiles, the impact of U.S. agricultural exports on Thai farmers, and free trade negotiations that required a change in existing national legislation. The groups that defend the trade and investment agreement are Unocal, General Motors and Nike. U.S.-Thailand FTA News FTA Talks Revived AFP, June 25, 2008 Japan Congress Presses to Approve Korea Trade Agreement Reuters, December 7, 2007 Thailand Free Trade Negotiations Review was delayed Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2006 Thailand engages in free trade negotiations in the United States following Reuters investigation, March 1, 2006 Thai trade negotiation with U.S. resignation after The Associated Press review , 19 January 2006 Thousands of protests against US Thai Reuters trade negotiations, 9 January 2006 10.00 expected, on US free trade negotiations The Nation (Thailand), 6 January 2006 Technical talks dominate US Thai FTA Round, Bridges October 5, 2005 Thailand says trade pact could take time Associated Press, 21 September 2005 Like other recent bilateral free trade agreements with the United States , the US-Thailand Free Trade Agreement will cover investment, services, public procurement, intellectual property and agriculture.