EU-Thailand FTA Negotiations: IUU Fishing and Human Rights Remain Obstacles

Thailand’s fishing industry, which at its height saw as many as 200,000 migrant workers from neighboring Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia caught in a brutal system of abuse, withered global criticism until eventually, the European Union (EU) issued a “yellow card” to Thailand aiming to crack down on both systemic abuse and illegally caught fish ending up in European supermarkets.

With a semi-democratic government replacing the military-backed establishment that ruled Thailand for nearly a decade, negotiations for a mutually desired free trade agreement (FTA) have resumed. However, as the new Srettha Thavisin government seeks fast economic remedies to a flagging economy, reforms to its fishing industry may come undone, compromising FTA talks and putting the Kingdom again under international scrutiny.

This issue brief discusses the interrelated issues of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the human rights of migrant workers in Thailand’s expansive fishing and seafood industries in the context of the EU-Thai FTA negotiations.

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