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 is 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 a presence in Thailand.
In 2018, Germany was again Thailand’s most important trading partner in the European Union by far; according to Thai trade statistics, Germany ranked 13th in terms of exports and 12th in terms of imports. German companies exported goods worth 5.06 billion euros to Thailand in 2018 and imported goods worth 6.11 billion euros from the country. The total volume of bilateral trade was thus a record 11.67 billion euros in 2018, up from 10.64 billion euros in 2017. More than 600 German companies are active in Thailand, and the large number of German tourists (almost 900,000 each year) also play 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 approximately 200 partnerships between German and Thai higher education institutions, which enable intensive academic exchange between the countries. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung also contribute to this, providing a total of eight lectors, as well as scholarships and student advice services.
Two German-language schools receive support from the Central Agency for Schools Abroad (ZfA) as certified “Excellent German Schools Abroad”.