More information about Thailand is available on the Thailand country page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States relationship with Thailand is one of over 200 years of friendship with an enduring treaty ally. Thailand is a key U.S. security ally in Asia. Since World War II, the United States and Thailand have significantly expanded diplomatic, security, and commercial relations.
The first documented contact between the United States and Thailand was recorded in 1818. The first agreement signed with Thailand was the 1833 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, ratified by King Rama III, the U.S. Congress, and President Van Buren. The United States and Thailand are signatories of the 1954 Manila Pact of the former Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), which, 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.
A Broad, Multi-Faceted Partnership
Our partnership with Thailand is bilateral and regional in scope. U.S. support is geared toward reform of the criminal justice system; the promotion of good governance through democracy, human rights, and civil society activities; humanitarian assistance for displaced persons; and the prevention of infectious diseases and emerging pandemic threats.
The United States also supports Thailand’s leadership in the Mekong region through the Lower Mekong Initiative and is a development partner of the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), a partnership between the five lower Mekong countries to coordinate infrastructure development.
Thailand and the United States have longstanding cooperation in international law enforcement. The U.S. and Thailand jointly operate the International Law Enforcement
Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, which since 1998 has supported criminal justice institution and capacity building. ILEA Bangkok has provided training to more than 20,000 students from across East Asia on topics such as counter-narcotics, countering trafficking in persons, cybercrime, and wildlife trafficking.
Thailand and the United States co-host Cobra Gold, the Indo-Pacific region’s largest annual multinational military exercise. Since 1950, Thailand has received U.S. military equipment, essential supplies, training, and assistance in the construction and improvement of facilities. As part of our mutual defense cooperation, we have developed a joint military exercise program that engages all the services of each nation and counts an annual slate of more than 400 military exercises and engagements.
U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers, active in Thailand since 1963, focus on primary education, youth development, reproductive health, and civic engagement.
Growing Economic and Commercial Engagement
In 2018, Thailand’s GDP was an estimated $487.2 billion, making it the second largest economy in Southeast Asia and the largest economy in Mainland Southeast Asia. Thailand is currently the United States’ 20th largest goods trading partner, with $44.5 billion in two-way goods trade during 2018. Our most current commercial agreement, the 1966 Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, facilitates U.S. and Thai companies’ access to one another’s markets.
The July 2019 U.S.-Thailand Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks focused on the bilateral trade relationship, including Thailand’s action to reduce the U.S. trade in goods deficit, and pressing trade concerns at the heart of the ongoing Generalized System of Preferences reviews of pork market access and worker rights in Thailand.
Extensive People-to-People Ties Based on Shared Values
The U.S. government funds more than 30 exchange programs in Thailand to connect Thai youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders to their counterparts in the
United States and the ASEAN region, and to engage them on strategic priorities ranging from civic engagement to economic sustainability.
Thailand’s alumni community from U.S. government programs is robust, with more than 5,000 members hailing from the Fulbright Program, International Visitors Leadership Program, the Young South East Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI), and other programs. The YSEALI network has grown to nearly 15,000 members in Thailand since its inception in 2013, 500 of whom have traveled to the United States as part of a YSEALI fellowship.
More information about Thailand is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here: