WASHINGTON, DC - The United States and
Thailand concluded the fifth round of Free Trade
Agreement (FTA) negotiations in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 30. The round followed the September 19
meeting between President George W. Bush and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, during which the leaders pledged vigorous efforts to conclude the
FTA. Following this directive, the
two sides made significant progress on the range of issues, including services,
investment and financial services, covered by the FTA.
The United States welcomed the constructive
proposals offered by the Thai negotiators, which contributed to the concrete
progress achieved during the week. The teams will meet again in November to
maintain the momentum and position the
Thailand to conclude the FTA expeditiously.
The United States-Thailand FTA will generate
solid economic benefits for both the United
States is already
Thailand’s second largest source of imports, with
U.S. business shipping $6.4 billion in exports to
Thailand last year. Removing existing trade barriers will
create new opportunities for U.S. businesses in both goods and services,
spurring economic growth, boosting American living standards and supporting
higher paying jobs. It also helps
to ensure that U.S. businesses and workers are not put at a
disadvantage with their key competitors from countries such as
Australia, which already have preferential trade
agreements with Thailand.
The FTA will be particularly beneficial for
U.S. agricultural producers. The
States is currently the top supplier to
Thailand of agricultural products, selling cotton,
wheat, soybeans and soybean meal, hides and skins, prepared animal feed, dairy
products, and processed foods. The
FTA will further open and diversify sales for these and other products, such as
beef and pork, to this major market for U.S. farmers and ranchers.
In 2003, President Bush announced his intent
to enter into FTA negotiations with Thailand in accordance with the legislative
procedures specified by Congress.
This FTA reaffirms the President’ commitment under his Enterprise for
ASEAN Initiative, which offers the possibility of FTAs to ASEAN members with
which the U.S. has a bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA), are WTO
members, and that are committed to economic reforms and openness.
The first round of U.S.-Thailand FTA
negotiations was held in July 2004, with successive rounds held in October 2004
and April 2005. Negotiating groups
also held meetings between rounds to lay the groundwork for a successful fourth
round. The United
States hopes to finish negotiations with
Thailand in early 2006.
Total trade between the
Thailand was $24 billion in 2004, up nearly 11
percent from the previous year and nearly doubling in the last decade.
U.S. goods exports totaled $6.4 billion, an
increase of 10.3 percent since 2003.
Exports of Thai goods to the United
States grew 15.8 percent last year to $17.6
U.S. services exports to
Thailand totaled $1.1 billion in 2003 (the latest
available data), while Thailand’s exports of services to the
States were $739 million. The stock of
U.S. foreign direct investment in
Thailand in 2003 was $7.4 billion, making the
States the largest foreign investor in