New Opportunities for the United States-Kingdom of Thailand Alliance in the Indo-Pacific

Asia Pacific Bulletin


Washington, DC: East-West Center

Publication Date: November 23, 2021
Binding: Electronic
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In this special APB series, the East West Center in Washington and Royal Thai Embassy, Washington, D.C. bring together eminent scholars and experts to discuss opportunities to enhance US-Thailand relations and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Revitalize the Thai-US Alliance by Tackling 21st Century Challenges: Let’s Start by Working Together to Address Marine Plastic Debris

Ambassador (retired) Piper Anne Wind Campbell, Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University and former Chargé US Mission to ASEAN, explains that "in both countries, it seems, our younger populations are not aware of interesting joint initiatives that could inspire a greater sense of collaboration and alliance. The solution is to go beyond a defense emphasis and to revitalize the Thai-US. alliance by tackling 21st century challenges."

How to Move the Thailand-US Strategic Alliance Forward

Dr. Darmp Sukontasap, Director, Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, Rangsit University, Thailand, explains that "gone are the days when an alliance is viewed exclusively from the security and military perspective. The geopolitical realities of the 21st century require alliances to encompass agendas which are non-military, non-political and non-confrontational."

Sustainable Infrastructure Offers Opportunities for US-Thai Cooperation 

Courtney Weatherby, Deputy Director and Research Analyst for the Southeast Asia and Energy, Water, & Sustainability programs at the Stimson Center, explains that "Thailand’s forward-looking focus on climate resilience provides ample opportunities for bilateral collaboration with the United States."

The Prospects of Thailand-US Economic Cooperation

Dr. Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, explains that "data runs contrary to the perception that Bangkok is leaning towards Beijing… Thailand embraces American economic clout while dreading its Chinese counterpart."

Can US Assistance Reinvigorate the US-Thai Alliance?

Thomas Parks, the Thailand Country Representative for The Asia Foundation, explains that "US-Thai relations matter now more than ever. Since 2018, the United States has been expanding security cooperation with Thailand, after the historic lows of the post-2014 coup years."

Thai-US Bilateral Relations: Benefits and Challenges

Arunrat Chumroentaweesup, Consulting Manager at Tractus Asia, explains that "American firms enjoy two significant benefits. First, US entities are permitted to maintain a majority shareholding or to wholly own a company, branch office or representative office located in Thailand. Second, US companies are permitted to engage in business on almost the same footing as Thai firms and are exempted from most of the foreign investment restrictions imposed by the Foreign Business Act."

US-Thai Economic Prospects–Turning A New Page

Judy A. Benn, Former Executive Director American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand, explains that "for Thailand to take full advantage of post-pandemic opportunities and reignite its economy to make-up for the last 18 months, the nation will need to capitalize on its centralized geographic location and position as one of Southeast Asia’s strongest manufacturing bases."

Old Ally, New Direction: Cobra Gold And Beyond

Kitti Prasirtsuk, Ph.D., a Professor of International Relations at Thammasat University, explains that despite strained US-Thai relations over the past decade, the Cobra Gold (CG) military exercise "equates to a win for both sides" and "is the cornerstone of the US-Thailand alliance, representing a major bond between the two nations in their post-Vietnam War relations."

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