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 Friendship, Trade and Shipping by Count Friedrich zu Eulenburg and King Mongkut. A trade treaty between the Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen and the Kingdom of Siam had already existed since 1858.
Thailand is one of Germany’s most important political partners in Asia today 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 have an office in Thailand.
Germany is by far Thailand’s most important trading partner in the European Union; according to Thai trade statistics, Germany ranked 16th in terms of exports and 11th in terms of imports. German companies exported goods worth 4.17 billion euros to Thailand in 2020 and imported goods worth 5.65 billion euros from the country. The bilateral trade volume was thus 11% lower than in 2019. However, this decrease was more than made up in the first half of 2021. Over 600 German companies are active in Thailand, and the large number of German tourists (almost 900,000 each year until the pandemic) also played a major role in the countries’ relations.
The Goethe-Institut in particular is breathing life into the cultural agreement signed by the two countries back in 1984. It is highly popular in Thailand thanks to both its attractive cultural programmes and its work to promote the German language. There are 236 cooperation partnerships between German and Thai higher education institutions, which enable intensive academic exchange between the countries. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) also contributes to this, providing a total of three lectors, as well as scholarships and student advice services. The German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) receives support through the DAAD from Federal Foreign Office funds.
Two German schools in Thailand are recognised as Excellent German Schools Abroad and receive funding from the Federal Office of Administration - Central Agency for Schools Abroad on behalf of the Federal Foreign Office.