Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Diplomatic History’

28th April 2009

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand have one of the longest diplomatic relationships in Asia. The two countries have been allies for many years and have a mutually beneficial trade relationship. This post provides a brief overview of American-Thai relations since formal diplomatic relations began in the early 19th century.

On March 20, 1833 the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand concluded the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. The Administration of President Andrew Jackson sent Edmund Roberts as plenipotentiary in order to refine and ultimately sign the Treaty. King Rama III, through his Ministers and Emissaries, entered into the Treaty that would be the touchstone for all future diplomatic relations between the two nations.

This Treaty placed the USA on the same level as many other “Great Power’ countries with diplomatic ties to Thailand (the Siam). This Treaty is also noteworthy because it marks the first Treaty between the USA and an Asian nation. Before the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, the United States had yet to conclude any diplomatic treaties with any other nation in Asia.

In 1856 King Rama IV and Townsend Harris, and emissary of the Franklin Pierce Administration, concluded the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation. This document gave US Citizens extraterritorial rights in the Kingdom and established the first consulate in Bangkok, with one Stephen Matoon as the US’s first resident consul in the Kingdom.

Rama VI and representative of the Wilson administration signed a new Treaty in 1920. This Treaty (which could be viewed as something of a revision of the preceding treaty) was a significantly more equitable document than those before it.

In 1937, following political turbulence in Thailand directly resulting from the revolution and adoption of the first Thai constitution, the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation was legalized.  The following decade Thailand would be pressured by the Japanese to declare war upon the USA. In a somewhat interesting series of events, the Thai Ambassador either refused to deliver the declaration or the US Secretary of State refused to accept it (the details of this exchange are unclear, but it would seem neither wished to acknowledge the declaration).

After the second world war, relations between the two nations regularized and thrived. In May of 1966 the US-Thai Treaty of Amity was signed in as the law of the land in both nations. This Treaty acts as the basis for reciprocal agreements in which Thai National’s can receive a US visa and American Citizens can obtain a Thai visa. This Treaty is currently in force at the time of this writing and acts as the framework for all trade and business relations between the two nations. Thailand and the USA also have close military and political ties as evidenced by joint military operations in the Kingdom known as Cobra Gold.

Currently, both governments claim to be in continuing negotiation regarding trade going forward. Under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, trade negotiations were held in order to update legal relations, but the talks fell apart over issues involving Intellectual Property concerns. There are some questions regarding rights conferred under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity going forward.

As of April 29th 2009 – Americans are currently accorded preferential treatment compared to other nationalities under the US-Thai Treaty of Amity

Thanks for reading!

(Note: Nothing contained in this post should be construed as legal advice nor as an agreement creating an attorney-client relationship. One should always obtain legal advice from a duly licensed Attorney)

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