Germany is now Thailand’s largest trading partner in Europe, with a close relationship and strong partnership. A call has been made for both countries to work together to promote trade and investment in the building of the European Union and ASEAN.
The call was made by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who returned from her five-day trip to Germany and France on 21 July 2012.
In her statement at a reception celebrating the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Thailand and Germany in Berlin, the Prime Minister pointed out that trade between Thailand and Germany came to about nine billion US dollars. She noticed an increase in Thailand's imports of German products, in particular the intermediate goods. Imports from Germany in 2011 rose by 15 percent, while the level of imports for intermediate products was around 1.6 billion, representing an increase of 14 percent. They include plastics, iron and steel, chemical products, and organic chemicals, all of which are important to Thailand's production and exports.
Prime Minister Yingluck said that Thailand is pursuing a policy to serve as a "Kitchen to the World," which is related to the food industry and food security. In this area, Thailand will ensure the highest quality of food products and seek to comply with international standards of safety, including standards of the European Union.
As for investment, she said, there are many opportunities in both Thailand and ASEAN, which will become a single market and production base of over 600 million consumers by 2015. The Thai government is investing around 73 billion dollars in infrastructure projects, including a high-speed train link to other major cities in Thailand and neighboring countries, such as Laos and southern China. Other projects include the expansion of Suvarnabhumi International Airport to accommodate 65 million people a year and the construction of more mass transit lines in Bangkok. Apart from benefiting trade and investment, these projects will allow the country to welcome more international tourists and ensure that they have an enjoyable stay in Thailand.
The Prime Minister explained that the investment plans are part of the overall strategy to enhance regional connectivity in ASEAN and beyond. She said that with the East-West, North-South, and Southern Economic Corridors being completed, all of which pass through Thailand, Germany would be dealing with a more integrated Mekong region and ASEAN Community. The development of the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar will be linked with Bangkok and Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Thailand, where Germany will make a land bridge linking the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand.
Once the Dawei deep-sea port is connected to the regional transportation network in ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion, she said, German and European products will be distributed more effectively in the ASEAN Community and onward to China and other countries in East Asia.
In this regard, Prime Minister Yingluck urged Germany to invest more in this high-growth, single ASEAN market.