Partners for sustainable development: 160 years of diplomatic relations with Thailand

graffiti at the German Embassy in Bangkok

Germany and Thailand established diplomatic relations 160 years ago. The exterior wall of the German Embassy in Bangkok now sports some outsize graffiti celebrating relations between the two countries., © picture alliance/dpa | Carola Frentzen

07.02.2022 - Article

On 7 February 1862, the Prussian envoy signed a friendship treaty with the Kingdom of Siam. This treaty is the basis for diplomatic relations between Germany and Thailand, which have thus been maintained for 160 years.

In 1860, Prussia sent its steam corvette “Arcona” and three other ships from the Baltic to the China Seas in order to establish contacts with the powers in the region. One result of this expedition was the signing on 7 February 1862 of the “Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation between the States of the German Customs and Commercial Union, and the Grandduchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz, on one part, and the Kingdom of Siam, on the other part”. This treaty is the founding document for diplomatic relations between Germany and modern-day Thailand.

handwritten treaty with seals
Treaty of Friendship, Trade and Shipping between the States of the German Customs Union and the Grand Duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz on the one Part and the Kingdom of Siam on the Other© AA

160 years of diplomatic relations

Close ties have developed from this foundation – both at political and at economic and civil-society level. There are currently around 115,000 Thais living in Germany, and about 35,000 Germans in Thailand. Before tourism was curtailed by the COVID‑19 pandemic, just under a million Germans visited Thailand each year. Dialogue on further possible ways to intensify relations and on issues relating to the rule of law, democracy and human rights plays an important part in the bilateral political exchange.

Partners for sustainable development

Thailand is regarded as one of the ten countries in the world hardest hit by climate change. That is one reason why the motto for this anniversary year is “Partners for sustainable development”. We also want to further deepen our intensive cooperation on climate change mitigation. As part of its International Climate Initiative, Germany is supporting over 30 projects in Thailand, one of them – the Thai-German Climate Change Policy Programme – to the tune of twenty million euro. Cooperation focuses on cutting emissions, for example through low-emission rice cultivation or the promotion of electric vehicles.

Economy and education

Thailand and Germany are important trading partners. Over 600 German companies are active in Thailand, employing some 200,000 people. The two countries have also long enjoyed successful cooperation in vocational education and training. Numerous universities and universities of applied sciences in Thailand have their roots in vocational training institutions set up decades ago with German assistance. One flagship project in cooperation on vocational training is the German-Thai Dual Excellence Education (GTDEE) programme, which was established ten years ago and enables Thais to undergo vocational education and training in keeping with German standards in Thailand.


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