Trade Disputes in Thailand

As a dynamic participant in international trade, Thailand encounters its fair share of trade-related disputes. Understanding the available dispute resolution mechanisms is key to navigating these conflicts effectively.

Disputes often stem from disagreements about tariffs and quotas, while dumping (selling products below market value) can also be a source of tension. In addition, cultural factors can impact negotiations and the way disputes are resolved.


Negotiation can offer a more amiable outcome for parties involved and can help avoid the negative impact of long legal proceedings. It can also be much more cost effective than litigation. This approach is often included in arbitration agreements between international businesses in Thailand and the Labour Department encourages mediation clauses in expatriate contracts as a way of settling disputes before involving the courts.

In this case, the complainants were able to show that canned tuna imports from 'preferred' countries had decreased significantly while imports from other 'non-preferred' countries remained steady or increased. Consequently, they were able to convince the EC that the preferential tariffs had harmed their export performance vis-a-vis the 'preferred' markets.

As a member of the WTO, Thailand can use its dispute settlement mechanism to bring claims against trading partners that violate trade agreements. This process involves consultations and panel proceedings and may result in binding rulings that can impose trade sanctions.


The use of mediation in trade disputes is increasingly common in Thailand as a means to resolve the issues that can arise from trade with other countries. In addition to being more cost effective and expedient than litigation, mediation also can provide parties with a way to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of their dispute.

However, before engaging in mediation, it is important to understand the process and its limitations in order to make an informed decision. It is advisable to consult with a bilingual Thai lawyer to ensure that the process is understood by all parties involved.

While the mediation process can help resolve a trade dispute, it is not without its limitations. For example, it is not possible to mediate a dispute with a claim that exceeds five million baht. In addition, a mediated settlement is not enforceable through the courts in Thailand without being submitted to arbitration by the tribunal. Nonetheless, it is an excellent option to consider prior to initiating litigation in the country.


Arbitration is one of the alternatives to litigation that can be used to resolve a trade dispute in Thailand. It can be quicker and less expensive than going to court.

During an arbitration hearing, disputing parties are required to offer proof of their claims and defenses. They are also permitted to question expert witnesses. Hearings may last up to several weeks or months.

The Thai Mediation Center in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office is responsible for conducting and coordinating both court-annexed and out-of-court mediation, as well as offering the public legal advice on mediation and conciliation. The Office further develops the systems, methods and standards of mediation in Thailand.

Aside from a few exceptions, the courts generally respect the choice of law made by the parties in their arbitration agreement. However, direct enforcement of international mediated settlements is currently not available in Thailand. Nevertheless, Thailand is a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention on the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.


Litigation can be a time-consuming and expensive process. It also does not guarantee a positive outcome. Therefore, it is often a last resort, particularly for companies operating in complex industries.

Arbitration in Thailand is regulated by the Arbitration Act, which was redrafted in 2002 based on the UNCITRAL model law with Thailand specific additions. An arbitration clause can be included in a contract or drafted as a separate agreement.

Before trial, a court can facilitate conciliation between the parties to bring about a mutual settlement. Moreover, the court may appoint outside reconcilers to assist in settling disputes. If a case does not settle during the pre-trial stage, a trial will be scheduled and the court will determine the issues. During the trial, the judge will examine evidence to make a judgment on all or some of the claims brought by the parties. The court’s ruling will be subject to appeal. A foreign judgment may be used as evidence in Thailand, but the evidentiary value of such a judgment will be at the discretion of the court.

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