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 July 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.

  • French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie Jean-Marie Le Guen visited Bangkok on 7 and 8 March 2017 to honour the King Rama IX as he lay in state.
  • Minister of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir visited Bangkok from 13 to 15 October 2016 to attend the EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting.
  • Minister Delegate for Francophonie 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.
  • Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier visited Thailand from 9 to 12 May 2013. On this occasion he met with his counterpart, Chatchart Sittipan and with Kittirat Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. 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.
  • French Prime Minister 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.
  • Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited France from 19 to 21 July 2012, where she met with French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Economic relations

Thailand, the second largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia, is our second leading economic partner within ASEAN after Singapore (trade in goods and services and investments taken into account).

France is the third largest European investor in Thailand, mainly in the industrial area because the Thai economy is now extremely industrialized (28;5% of the GDP); the French FDI stock is over €3 billion. Our economic presence comes through 260 to 280 companies (including some 60 subsidiaries of large groups such as Michelin, Valéo, Total, Essilor, Schneider Electric, Bouygues, Accor) and of between 600 and 1,000 independent entrepreneurs working mostly in the service sector.

In France, Thai investments also accounts for 13 businesses and 1,330 jobs, mainly in agrifood and industry.

With more than 735,000 French tourists a year, Thailand alone receives half of the French tourists in the Asia-Pacific region. There are also 12,500 French citizens registered at the Consulate of France in Bangkok.

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 Service 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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