Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations [Updated April 5, 2006]   [open pdf - 174KB]

"U.S.-Thailand relations are of interest to Congress because of Thailand's status as a long-time military ally, a key country in the war against terrorism in Southeast Asia, and a significant trade and economic partner. A proposed U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA), currently being negotiated, would require implementing legislation to take effect. However, the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in April 2006 cast uncertainty on how these U.S. priorities and Thai politics in general would fare in the near future. Despite differences on Burma policy and human rights issues, shared economic and security interests have long provided the basis for U.S.-Thai cooperation. Bangkok and Washington coordinate closely on law enforcement, intelligence, and security cooperation. Thailand contributed troops and support for U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was designated as a major non-NATO ally by President Bush in December 2003. Thailand's airfields and ports play a particularly important role in U.S. global military strategy, including having served as the primary hub of the relief effort for the Indian Ocean tsunami. The high-profile arrest of radical Islamic leader Hambali in a joint Thai-U.S. operation in 2003 underscores Thailand's role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. If negotiations for an FTA are successful, the current U.S.-Thai bilateral trade total of $20 billion could rise considerably. Thailand is the United State's 19th largest trading partner."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL32593
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