France and Thailand
Historically speaking, Thailand is France’s oldest partner in South-East Asia, as two diplomatic delegations from the Kingdom of Siam visited France in 1684 and 1686 and were received by Louis XIV in Versailles. In 1893, the Franco-Siamese War led Siam to evacuate Laos which was incorporated into French Indochina. The 1904 crisis led in 1906 to the incorporation of Battambang Province into Cambodia.
Our bilateral relationship is highly diverse. New momentum was generated by two successive action plans in recent years which were marked by the visit of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Paris in July 2012 and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to Bangkok in February 2013.
France condemned the coup d’État of 22 May 2014 that very day, calling for an immediate return to constitutional order, the holding of an electoral process as early as possible, and respect for fundamental freedoms.
N.B. In accordance with the Conclusions of the Council of the European Union meeting in Foreign Affairs format on 23 June 2014, no bilateral visits at ministerial level have taken place between France and Thailand since the coup d’État on 22 May 2014.
- The French Minister Delegate for Francophonie Ms Yamina Benguigui visited Thailand from 14 to 16 October 2013, where she participated in the inauguration of the new premises of the Alliance française in Bangkok. She also signed a Letter of Intent on the teaching of French with the Thai Minister of Education
- The French Minister of Transport, Mr Frédéric Cuvillier, visited Thailand from 9 to 12 May 2013. On that occasion, he met with his counterpart, Mr Chatchart Sitthipan, and with Mr Kittirat Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Mr Chatchart Sitthipan also visited France in June 2013 during the International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, where he signed a rail transport cooperation agreement with Mr Cuvillier.
- French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Thailand on 4 and 5 February 2013. He was accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Trade, who held a high-level economic dialogue with her Thai counterpart, and by the Minister Delegate for Francophonie, who signed an agreement on the teaching of French in Thailand.
- Ms Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, visited France from 19 to 21 July 2012. During her visit, she met with French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Thailand is an important economic partner and was France’s third-largest trading partner within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014 after Singapore and Malaysia, with a total trade volume of €3.7 billion. Whereas France had a foreign trade surplus of €230 million with Thailand in 2013, the fall in the sales and supply of aviation equipment reduced our exports, and this led to a €925 million deficit in 2014.
France is the third-largest European investor and the tenth-largest global investor in Thailand, with an investment stock which has more than doubled since 2006 to more than €3 billion today. Our economic presence consists of 220 subsidiaries (of which some 60 are those of major groups such as Michelin, Total, Bouygues, Airbus and Accor, and of between 500 and 1000 independent entrepreneurs working mostly in the service sector.
In France, Thai investment also accounts for 13 businesses and 1,330 jobs, mainly in agrifood and industry.
Thailand is the leading French tourist destination in South-East Asia, with more than 630,000 tourist arrivals in 2014. Together with Singapore, Thailand hosts the biggest community of French residents in South-East Asia (over 10,000 were registered in 2014).
France has comprehensive cultural, scientific and technical cooperation services in Thailand: the Embassy’s Cooperation and Cultural Action Service and an Alliance française in Bangkok with three regional branches in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Chiang Rai, as well as research centres (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia (IRASEC), French Research Institute for Development (IRD), French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), French School of Asian Studies (EFEO)). Our cooperation, which is in the form of partnerships, is co-financed to a great extent.
The Thai-French Innovation Centre (TFIC) provides high-level specialist training in various industrial sectors. In the field of scientific cooperation, Thailand benefits from the Hubert Curien Partnership (PHC) “SIAM” programme and from the regional BIO-Asia and ICT-Asia programmes.
Updated: 7 September 2016