Free Trade Area / US-Thailand Negotiations

Original Publication Date: 
21 March, 2005

Civic groups to counter talks

Civic groups plan a series of activities to counter the upcoming negotiations on free trade area (FTA) agreement between Thailand and the United States in Pattaya early next month.

FTA Watch has teamed up with WTO Watch, the Senate committees for foreign affairs and social development, as well as the National Human Rights Commission, to organise a discussion on March 28 and to call for a halt in negotiations unless key issues like intellectual property rights were axed from the agenda.

The third round of talks to form a free trade area with the US will be staged in Pattaya from April 4-8. The first two rounds were held in June and October last year in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The US delegation will be spearheaded by Barbara Weisel, the deputy US trade representative, and the Thai delegation led by Nitya Pibulsongkram.

The comprehensive agreement would cover not only trade and investment but also services, government procurement and intellectual property rights, modeled on the US-Singapore FTA. The negotiations have attracted strong opposition and raised concern among many Thai social advocates, trade union and NGO activists, as well as academics and armers.

The new Thaksin Shinawatra-led government has not succeeded in seeking a postponement of the talks. The US Trade Representative (USTR) wants to see the negotiations concluded within this year so that it can make a presentation to the Congress for its approval next year.