Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Foreign relations of Thailand

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Foreign relations of Thailand

The foreign relations of Thailand are handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.


Thailand participates fully in international and regional organizations. It has developed increasingly close ties with other ASEAN members—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and Vietnam—whose foreign and economic ministers hold annual meetings. Regional cooperation is progressing in economic, trade, banking, political, and cultural matters. In 2003, Thailand served as APEC host. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, served as Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) from 2005 until 31 August 2013. In 2005 Thailand attended the inaugural East Asia Summit.

In recent years, Thailand has taken an increasingly active role on the international stage. When East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, Thailand, for the first time in its history, contributed troops to the international peacekeeping effort. Its troops remain there today as part of a UN peacekeeping force. As part of its effort to increase international ties, Thailand has reached out to such regional organizations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Thailand has contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Parts of the border with Laos are indefinite; maritime boundary with Vietnam resolved, August 1997; parts of border with Cambodia are indefinite; maritime boundary with Cambodia not clearly defined; sporadic conflict with Burma over alignment of border.

Illicit drugs

A minor producer of opium, heroin, and marijuana; major illicit transit point for heroin en route to the international drug market from Burma and Laos; eradication efforts have reduced the area of cannabis cultivation and shifted some production to neighboring countries; opium poppy cultivation has been reduced by eradication efforts; also a drug money laundering center; minor role in amphetamine production for regional consumption; increasing indigenous abuse of methamphetamines and heroin.


Relations are considered close and cordial and have made strides to improve trade and investment between the two countries. Diplomatic relations were established on 5 October 1972 and Thailand opened its embassy in 1974 followed by Bangladesh setting up their own in Bangkok in the following year. The first visit between the two countries was President Ziaur Rahman's visit to Thailand in 1979 followed by Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda in 1983. Other Heads of States like Ershad visited in 1985, 1988 and 1990 and Thaksin Shinawatra in July and December 2002 and January 2004. Thailand is a key country in Bangladesh's "Look East" policy and relations have begun to increase and diversify into different areas.

They seek not to intervene in each other's internal matters as shown by their response to the events occurring in their own respective countries in 2006 such as the 2006 Thai coup d'état and 2006–08 Bangladeshi political crisis. Both have considerable cooperation in summits organised by BIMSTEC and the ASEAN regional forum. Upper class and upper middle class Bangladeshis often go to Thailand for medical treatment and operations that the country's medical infrastructure cannot provide.


Brunei has an embassy in Bangkok, and Thailand has an embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan. The relations have always been close and cordial.


Parts of Cambodia's border with Thailand are indefinite, and the maritime boundary with Thailand is not clearly defined. On 5 November 2009 Thailand recalled its ambassador from Cambodia in protest of the Cambodian government's appointment of Thai ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that this was "the first diplomatic retaliation measure" against the appointment. He also said that Cambodia was interfering in Thai internal affairs and as a result bi-lateral co-operation agreements would be reviewed. The Cambodian government has stated that it would refuse any extradition request from Thailand for Thaksin as it considered him to be a victim of political persecution.

In the months leading up to the Cambodian decision, troops from both nations had clashed over territory claimed by both countries immediately adjacent to Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple, leading to a deterioration in relations. At 8:30 pm local time on 5 November Cambodia announced that it was withdrawing their ambassador from Thailand as a retaliatory measure. Sok An, a member of the Council of Ministers and Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, said that the appointment of Thaksin is a decision internal to Cambodia and that it "conforms to international practice". The mutual withdrawal of ambassadors is the most severe diplomatic action to have occurred between the two countries.


Thailand established diplomatic relations with the PRC on 1 July 1975.

For an evaluation of Sino-Siamese relations, see Siamese Inter-State Relations in the Late Nineteenth Century: From An Asian Regional Perspective.


Diplomatic relations between India and Thailand were established in 1947, soon after India gained independence. Thailand holds three embassies in India: in Mumbai, in New Delhi, and in Calcutta. India also holds three embassies in Thailand: in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and A Muang.

The end of the Cold War led to a significant enhancement in the substance and pace of bilateral interactions. Indian Look East policy from 1993 and Thailand's Look West policy since 1996 set the stage for a substantive consolidation of bilateral relations. The past few years since 2001 have witnessed growing warmth, increasing economic and commercial links, exchange of high-level visits on both sides, and the signing of a large number of Agreements leading to a further intensification of relations. Thailand and India are cooperating in various multilateral fora like India's dialogue partnership with ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the East Asia Summit, the sub-regional grouping BIMSTEC involving Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan, and trilateral transport linkages with Thailand, Myanmar and India. India is a member of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) initiated by Thailand in 2002 and of the Mekong–Ganga Cooperation (MGC), a group of six countries.


Indonesia and Thailand are viewed as natural ally. Both nations officially established diplomatic ties in 1950 and have enjoyed a cordial bilateral relationship ever since. Both countries has established embassies in each capitals, Indonesia has their embassy in Bangkok and consulate in Songkhla, while Thailand has their embassy in Jakarta. High rank stately visits has been conducted for years. Both nations are the founders of ASEAN and the members of Non-Aligned Movement and APEC. Indonesia is also appointed as observer in Cambodian–Thai border dispute.


Israel and Thailand have had official relations since June 1954. The Israeli embassy in Bangkok was established in 1958. Since 1996, Thailand has had an embassy in Tel Aviv. After the floods in 2011, Israel sent water management experts to Thailand. Princess Chulabhorn Mahidal is involved in advancing scientific cooperation between the two countries. The Thai ambassador to Israel is Jukr Boon-Long.


Japan has become a key trading partner and foreign investor for Thailand. Japan is Thailand's largest supplier, followed by the United States. Since 2005, the rapid ramp-up in export of automobiles of Japanese makes (esp. Toyota, Nissan, Isuzu) has helped to dramatically improve the trade balance, with over 1 million cars produced last year. As such, Thailand has joined the ranks of the world's top ten automobile exporting nations. In 2007, a Japan–Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement was signed, aiming at free trade between the two countries after a transition period of 10 years.


In some respects, Thailand can be seen as a greater threat to Laos's independence than Vietnam because of its closer cultural affinity, its easier access, and its control over the railroad and highway routes to the sea. The Mekong River, which both sides have an interest in making a "river of true peace and friendship" — as their respective prime ministers called for in 1976 – also provides a north–south artery during the rainy season.


Thailand has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Malaysia has an embassy in Bangkok. Recently, Thai-Malay relations have soured considerably due to the ethnically Malay Pattani separatists in three southern provinces of Thailand. There have been claims by the Thai government that Malaysia has taken an interest in the cause of their opponents in the war, which is vehemently disputed by the latter.


In August 2013, the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited Pakistan in the first visit in a decade.


Thailand officially recognised Palestine as an independent state on 18 January 2012.


The Thailand-Philippines relations continues to be warm and friendly. Formal Relations with Thailand was established 14 June 1949. Thailand is one of the Philippines major trade partners and one of the Philippines' source of rice through Thai exports. Bilateral Relations continues to be strengthen through talks and agreements on economic, security and cultural matters including concerns on Rice trade, fight on drugs and human trafficking.

Saudi Arabia

Relations Saudi Arabia and Thailand were established in 1957 and hundreds of thousands of Thais went to Saudi Arabia to work. However, relations have been severely strained for the past 20 years due to fallout from the Blue Diamond Affair. Diplomatic missions were downgraded to chargé d'affaires level and the number of Thai workers in Saudi Arabia plummeted. Saudi Arabia does not issue working visas for Thais and discourages its citizens from visiting the country.

South Korea

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 1 October 1958. The year 2008 is the 50th year of bilateral relations with two nations. During the Korean War, Thailand was the second nation sending troops for supporting South Korea just after the United States. In October 2003, South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun visited Thailand while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra went to Seoul in November 2005. South Korean is the 10th largest trade partner, which is about to reach the scale of 10 billion dollars.


Diplomatic relations between the two countries have existed since 1976, and are very friendly both economically and politically nowadays. Yet, relations between the two countries had always been marred by discord, which resulted from bitter rivalry to gain control of the area of what is today Laos and Cambodia.

In the 19th century, Thailand (then known as Siam) had fought a series of wars with the Nguyễn dynasty which then ruled over Vietnam over control of Cambodia. This rivalry will only temporarily subside when French colonists stepped in and gradually building an establishment in Southeast Asia, known as French Indochina.

During the Vietnam War, Thailand was aligned with South Vietnam and the United States and the U Tapao Air Base was used as a base for USAF aircraft. During the Fall of Saigon in 1975, fleeing South Vietnamese pilots arrived at U Tapao before fleeing to other countries.

In 1979, when the Khmer Rouge government in neighbouring Cambodia was toppled, this had raised concerns in Thailand and the Thai government quickly allied itself with the Khmer Rouge, later the CGDK, in fear of Vietnamese expansionism. In fact, Thailand was foremost among the ASEAN, of which it is part of, in opposing the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.

Cambodian refugees soon stayed at border camps straddling the Thai-Cambodian border, and these camps are often controlled by the Khmer Rouge or the CGDK. In the years that followed, Vietnam launched a series of raids on the camps and Vietnamese troops often penetrated into Thai territory and shelled Thai border villages and towns.

International organization participation



Foreign relations of Thailand Wikipedia

Similar Topics
Oonch Neech Beech
Katharine Brown
Bruce Martin (cricketer)