"U.S.-Thailand relations are of particular 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. The currently-stalled proposed U.S.-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would require implementing legislation to take effect. However, the ouster of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra by a military coup in September 2006 and subsequent economic and political instability has cast uncertainty on how U.S. priorities will fare in the future. Future U.S.-Thai relations will likely depend upon how quickly the military rulers fulfill their promise to restore democratic rule. Despite differences on Burma policy and human rights issues, shared economic and security interests have long provided the basis for U.S.-Thai 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 following the 2004 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. The U.S.-Thai bilateral trade total in 2005 was $25 billion; Thailand is the United States's 19th largest trading partner."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32593