U.S. Relations With Thailand
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.
The United States and Thailand established relations in 1818 and signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1833, formalizing diplomatic relations. An interim military government has ruled Thailand, a constitutional monarchy, since a May 2014 military coup which deposed an elected civilian government. The United States has urged the restoration of elected civilian government and return to democracy through elections. 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, security, 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. The partnership spans the areas of public health, trade, science and technology, wildlife trafficking, education, cultural exchange, law enforcement, and security cooperation. Ongoing U.S. support is geared towards strengthening Thai efforts to reform the criminal justice system, promoting good governance through democracy and civil society activities, and investing in people through humanitarian assistance for displaced persons and control and prevention of infectious diseases and emerging pandemic threats. 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 trafficking and other criminal activity. 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 joint military exercise program, which engages all the services of each nation and has averaged 40 joint exercises per year. The United States has scaled back military engagements with Thailand following the May 2014 coup and has urged a return to civilian rule and democracy to forestall further negative impact on the U.S.-Thai security relationship.
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; control and prevention of infectious diseases and emerging pandemic threats; prevention of human and wildlife trafficking; resolution of political conflict and increased citizen participation in political processes; human rights promotion; and support for a more integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers, active in Thailand continuously since 1963, focus on primary education and youth development. Education Volunteers support English education through teacher collaboration, and community service.. Since 2013, Peace Corps Volunteers have also worked to promote life skills and leadership, reproductive health, and civic engagement and volunteering.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States is Thailand’s third-largest bilateral trading partner, after Japan and China. In 2015, total two-way trade was estimated over $37 billion, of which approximately $13.8 billion is in U.S. exports. American investment in Thailand, concentrated in the petroleum and chemicals, finance, consumer products, and automobile production sectors, is estimated at $11.3 billion in 2015. Leading Thai imports from the United States include machinery, aircraft, gold, optic and medical goods, and agricultural products. Thai exports to the United States include machinery, rubber, prepared meat, shrimp and tuna, jewelry, and other agricultural products. The United States is also one of the largest investors in Thailand, with over $11 billion in foreign direct investment in 2015, concentrated in the petroleum and chemicals, finance, consumer products and automobile production sectors.
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 2016 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.
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
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