Diplomatic relations between the member states of the German Customs Union and the Kingdom of Siam were established in 1862 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation. A trade treaty between the Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen and the Kingdom of Siam had already existed since 1858.
Today Thailand is one of Germany’s most important partners in southeast Asia and a key player in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The two countries also cooperate closely in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations. Five of Germany’s political foundations are represented in Thailand.
Germany is Thailand’s most important trading partner in the European Union. In 2021, Germany ranked 15th in terms of Thai exports and 13th in terms of imports. German companies exported goods worth 5.4 billion euro to Thailand in 2022, and German imports from Thailand totalled 8.6 billion euro. The bilateral volume of trade increased considerably in 2022, outstripping the pre-COVID 2019 level by 28%. Alongside some 600 German companies active in Thailand, the many German tourists (just under 900,000 each year until the pandemic) play a part in bilateral economic relations.
The Goethe-Institut in particular is breathing life into the cultural agreement signed by the two countries back in 1984. Its wide-ranging programme of cultural events and language courses makes it very popular. There are 236 cooperation partnerships between German and Thai higher education institutions, enabling intensive academic exchange between the countries. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) also contributes to this, providing a total of four lectors, as well as scholarships and student advice services. Further, with support for the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) from Federal Foreign Office funds, the DAAD is improving cooperation in the fields of justice and the rule of law.
Two German-language schools in Bangkok and Chiang Mai are recognised as Excellent German Schools Abroad and receive funding from the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office.