France and Thailand


Bilateral relations

Thailand is historically France’s oldest partner in South-East Asia. In 2016, the two countries celebrated the 160th anniversary of their relations (the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Siam and France was signed on 15 August 1856).

Several political visits took place in 2017. The Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen travelled to Bangkok in March 2017 and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Mr Harlem Désir visited in October 2016 to attend the EU-ASEAN ministerial meeting. The former Prime Minister, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Bangkok in late October 2017 to attend the funeral ceremony for King Rama IX, father of the current king.

Thailand is the second-largest economy in the ASEAN and is France’s second-largest market within the ASEAN after Singapore (€2.3 bn in French exports). France is the third-largest European investor in Thailand, with an investment stock of €1.7 bn in 2016 (Banque de France). Around 280 French businesses are present in Thailand, mainly in the service industry. Thailand is the ASEAN’s second-largest in France mainly in agrifood and industry (Double A in the Eure department, Indorama in Lorraine deparment, PTT Chemicals in the Isère, Rhône and Ile-de-France departments, Thai Union Frozen in the Finistère department).

With nearly 740,000 French tourists in 2016, Thailand alone receives half of the French tourists in the Asia-Pacific region. Together with Singapore, Thailand has the largest resident French community in South East Asia (nearly 13,000 registered, nearly four times higher than in 2000) with approximately 30,000 French citizens resident in Thailand. France welcomed over 100,000 Thai tourists in 2016.

Scientific cooperation between France and Thailand, regulated by the intergovernmental agreement on higher education and research of 2009 completed in 2012, is excellent notably due to the presence of major French research bodies (the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia (IRASEC), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD)) and public-private scientific partnerships with French companies which make Thailand France’s second-biggest scientific partner within the ASEAN.

Within the framework of the “Thailand 4.0” research and innovation-based strategy, work is ongoing to promote the training of Thai PhD candidates within French graduate schools.

Thailand has over 500,000 French speakers meaning that French remains highly present in the country with 35,000 learners including 26,000 at secondary level and 3,000 at university level.

Cooperation in the aerospace industry is particularly developed. An agreement between Astrium (now Airbus Defence Space) and the Thai space agency GISTDA helped to design and launch the first Thai earth observation satellite (THEOS I), which is used to improve water management for rice growing. The CNES cooperates with the Thai space agency.

Further information

Updated: 14.06.18

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