France and Thailand

Presentation

Political relations

Thailand is historically France’s oldest partner in South-East Asia: two diplomatic delegations from the Kingdom of Siam visited France in 1684 and 1686 and were received in Versailles by Louis XIV. In 1893, the Franco-Siamese war led to Laos being ceded to France and integrated into French Indochina. The crisis of 1904 led to Battambang Province being annexed to Cambodia in 1906.

Our bilateral relationship is very diverse. Two successive action plans over the last few years have given relations a new boost, punctuated with a visit by the Thai Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra to Paris in June 2012 and a visit by the French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault to Bangkok in February 2013.

France condemned the army’s seizing of power from 22 May 2014, calling for a return to constitutional order, the organization of an electoral process as soon as possible and the respect of fundamental freedoms.

Visits

NB: In accordance with the conclusions of the Council of the European Union meeting in the Foreign Affairs configuration on 23 June 2014, no ministerial-level bilateral visits have taken place between France and Thailand since the army seized power on 22 May 2014.

  • The French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, visited Bangkok on 7 and 8 March 2017 to honor the King Rama IX as he lay in state.
  • The Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Harlem Désir, visited Bangkok from 13 to 15 October 2016 to attend the EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting.
  • The Minister Delegate for Francophonie, Ms Yamina Benguigui, visited Thailand from 14 to 16 October 2013, where she participated in the inauguration of the new Alliance Française premises in Bangkok. She also signed a letter of intent on the teaching of French with the Thai Education Minister.
  • The Transport Minister, Mr Frédéric Cuvillier, visited Thailand from 9 to 12 May 2013. On this occasion he met with his counterpart, Mr Chatchart Sittipan and Mr Kittirat Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Mr Chatchart Sittipan also visited France in June 2013 for the Le Bourget trade fair where he signed a cooperation agreement for the railway sector with Mr Cuvillier.
  • The French Prime Minister, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, visited Thailand on 4 and 5 February 2013. He was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Trade, who held a high-level economic dialogue with his Thai counterpart, and the Minister Delegate for Francophonie, who signed an agreement on the teaching of French in Thailand.
  • The Thai Prime Minister, Ms Yingluck Shinawatra, visited France from 19 to 21 July 2012, where she met with the French President, Mr François Hollande and Prime Minister Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Economic relations

Thailand is an important economic partner and was France’s fourth-largest partner within the ASEAN in 2016 (€4.3bn in trade) after Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. While France’s foreign trade with Thailand produced a trade surplus of €230 million in 2013, the decrease in aeronautics deliveries has reduced our exports leading to a trade deficit of €855 million in 2016.

France is the third-largest European investor and tenth-largest investor worldwide in Thailand, with investments which have more than doubled since 2006 to reach over €3 billion. Our economic presence comes through 250 companies (including some 60 subsidiaries of large groups such as Michelin, Total, Bouyguyes, Airbus and Accor) and between 500 and 1,000 independent entrepreneurs, mainly in the services sector.

In France, Thai investments also represent 13 companies and 1,330 jobs, mainly in the agrifood and manufacturing sectors.

Thailand is the leading tourist destination for French tourists to South-East Asia with over 600,000 tourists per year. Together with Singapore it is home to the largest community of French people resident in South-East Asia (over 10,000 registered residents).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France has an important cultural, scientific and technical cooperation in Thailand through the French Embassy’s Cooperation and Cultural Action Services and an Alliance Française branch in Bangkok with three satellite locations in the provinces of Chiang Mai, Phuket and Chiang Rai, as well as research centres (the French Research Institute on Contemporary South-East Asia, the French Research Institute for Development, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and the French School of Asian Studies). Our cooperation is based on partnerships and has a high rate of co-financing.

The Franco-Thai Innovation Centre provides high-level specialized training in many industry sectors. As regards scientific cooperation, Thailand benefits from the “SIAM” Hubert Curien cooperation programme and regional BIO-Asia and ICT-Asia programmes.

Further information

Updated: 18.08.17

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