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Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Thailand


Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
August 19, 2013

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More information about Thailand is available on the Thailand Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.

U.S.-THAILAND RELATIONS

The United States and Thailand established relations in 1832 and signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, formalizing diplomatic relations. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy headed by a civilian government. The current government was elected in July 2011. Over the decades, Thai democracy has been interrupted by military coups and rule, and civic and political unrest. Thailand is a key U.S. security ally in Asia, and the country's stability and growth are important to the maintenance of peace in the region. Since World War II, the United States and Thailand have significantly expanded diplomatic and commercial relations.

The United States and Thailand are among the signatories of the 1954 Manila Pact of the former Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Despite the dissolution of the SEATO in 1977, the Manila Pact remains in force and, together with the Thanat-Rusk communiqué of 1962 and the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-U.S. Defense Alliance, constitutes the basis of U.S. security commitments to Thailand. In 2003, the United States designated Thailand a Major Non-NATO Ally.

U.S. Partnership with Thailand

The United States partnership with Thailand stretches beyond a bilateral relationship with an impact on the broader region. Building on strong security cooperation, the partnership expands into areas of trade, science and technology, wildlife trafficking, public health, education, cultural exchange, and law enforcement. Ongoing U.S. support is geared towards strengthening Thai efforts to reform the criminal justice system, promoting good governance through democracy and rule of law activities, and investing in people through humanitarian assistance for displaced persons and control of an HIV/AIDS epidemic and other infectious diseases. The United States also encourages Thailand’s ongoing active contributions to regional and global security, as well as supports Thailand’s efforts to assist lesser developed countries through the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI).

Thailand and the United States have longstanding cooperation in international law enforcement efforts. The United States and Thailand work closely together and with the United Nations on a broad range of programs to halt illicit drug trafficking and other criminal activity, such as trafficking in persons. Thailand has received U.S. military equipment, essential supplies, training, and assistance in the construction and improvement of facilities and installations for much of the period since 1950. As part of their mutual defense cooperation, Thailand and the United States have developed a vigorous joint military exercise program, which engages all the services of each nation and averages 40 joint exercises per year.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Regional Development Mission for Asia in Bangkok, supports regional, transnational, and bilateral programs. These programs include work on the responsible use of natural resources; reduction of the incidence of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; prevention of human and wildlife trafficking; resolution of political conflict and increased citizen participation in political processes; and the achievement of an integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community by 2015. USAID and the Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency ("TICA") signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2012 on jointly addressing development needs in third countries in the region. U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, active in Thailand continuously since 1963, focus on primary education, with an integrated program involving teacher training, health education, and environmental education. In 2003, the Peace Corps also established an organizational development program aimed at promoting sustainable rural development in Thai communities.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States is Thailand’s third-largest bilateral trading partner, after Japan and China, with total bilateral trade valued at more than $37 billion in 2012. The United States is also one of the largest investors in Thailand, with more than $13 billion in foreign direct investment. Leading Thai imports from the United States include machinery, chemicals, gold, optic and medical goods, aircraft, and agricultural products. Thai exports to the United States include machinery, rubber, prepared meat, shrimp and tuna, jewelry, and other agricultural products.

The 1966 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, the most recent iteration of the 1833 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, facilitates U.S. and Thai companies' economic access to one another's markets. The two countries also have agreements addressing sales of agricultural commodities and investment guarantees and reconvened the Joint Council in 2013 under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to advance bilateral trade. In 2013, the United States and Thailand signed an historic agreement on Science and Technology cooperation that enshrines robust protections for intellectual property while facilitating increased joint research programs, government to government collaboration, and private sector investment and technology transfer.

The Thai-U.S. Creative Partnership, active since 2011, builds on existing public-private and intergovernmental relationships, seeking to highlight innovative industry, identify new opportunities for collaborative ingenuity between the two countries, and spur increased productivity.

Thailand's Membership in International Organizations

Thailand is a founding member of ASEAN and strongly supports its efforts to promote economic development, social integration, and stability throughout the region. Thailand and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Thailand also is a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and an Organization of American States observer.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Thailand is Kristie A. Kenney; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List. The United States also operates a Consulate General in Chiang Mai.

Thailand maintains an embassy in the United States at 1024 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington DC 20007 (tel. 202-944-3600) and Consulates in several other cities.

More information about Thailand is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Thailand Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Thailand Page
U.S. Embassy: Thailand
USAID Thailand Page
History of U.S. Relations With Thailand
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information



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