Australia and Thailand; An Enduring Friendship

Australia is represented by the Ambassador to Thailand and the team at the Embassy in Bangkok. There is also the Consul General in Phuket and Honorary Consuls in Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. There are many Australian business people, the Australia Thailand Chamber of Commerce, (Austcham) that also provide strong links between Australia and Thailand. There is also a large Australian expat community that resides in Thailand.

The following is a summary of a booklet produced for Australia Day 2018 that explains Australia’s work in Thailand. A limited number of these booklets, Thai and English, with more detail were available at our Pavilion.

Across a wide range of mutual interests, Australia continues to build our bilateral relationship with Thailand. Our cooperative engagement involves trade and investment, defence, law enforcement, counter-terrorism, education, security, migration, and tourism.

There are 10 Australian Government agencies attached to the Embassy and over 200 staff – one of Australia’s largest missions, overseas. You can come along to our Pavilion and find out more about the work of the Australian Embassy in Thailand.

Khon Dancers at the Sydney Opera House

Embassy Move– After almost 40 years in Sathorn Road, the Australian embassy moved to a new building on Wireless Road. Officially opened on 3 August 2017 the iconic building recalls Australia’s central red outback landscape and incorporates Thai characteristics.

Political and Economic – It is busy agenda advancing high-level engagement regarding our shared interests and our political and economic bilateral relationship. The work in this area will be driven by the goals outlined in the recently released Australian Foreign Policy White Paper.

Consular and Passports – A large number of Australians visit Thailand each year for tourism and business. There is also a large Australian expat community in resident in Thailand. The consular and passport team provides support and assistance to a large number of Australian annually. The Embassy in Bangkok is Australia’s busiest consular Post in the world.

Austrade – We have been fostering stronger commercial links with Thailand. Australian-Thai commercial links are strengthening year-on-year, particularly in Thailand’s priority growth sectors. There is the opportunity for Austrade to introduce Australian expertise in FinTech, start-ups and cyber security. The total two-way trade in 2016 valued at 1.8 billion Australian dollars.  There is more information on Austrade in Thailand website.

Agriculture – We have been cooperating on bio-security to facilitate trade. Agriculture, significant to both Australia and Thailand, is an area of close engagement for our two countries as we purse our mutual interests to expand two-way agriculture trade, valued in 2016 at 1.94 billion Australian dollars. We are working to ensure vehicles exported to Australia are free from weed seeds and pests. This partnership supported the export of more than 170 billion baht of Thai manufactured motor vehicles to Australia in 2016.

Education – Australia and Thailand have built strong links and binding connections through education for more than seven decades. Australia welcomed more than 20,000 Thai students and announced we would support over 400 young Australian undergraduates to study and undertake work placements in Thailand under the New Colombo Plan. We greatly value our Thai Alumni network and hosted a series of events to maintain and build on the connections forged through education.

Defence – We are strengthening Australia-Thai interoperability. Our armed forces engaged extensively across all levels to reinforce our mutual commitment as trusted security partners. Reciprocal visits to Australia and Thailand by senior officials acknowledged the importance of our ongoing joint defence cooperation.

Australian Mission to ASEAN – We continue our work with Thailand as a key ASEAN player. Our ASEAN team based in Bangkok engages actively with Thailand as a leader in ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion to pursue regional responses to development challenges and economic integration. Australia works with Thailand’s Department of Water Resources Program to improve transboundry water resources and Royal Thai Police and Ministry of Justice to strengthen the response to people trafficking, as a few examples.

Border Protection – maintaining strong borders. The Australian Border Force worked closely with the Thai law enforcement and border management agencies to combat transnational crime and other threats. We continue to facilitate legitimate trade and travel between Thailand and Australia and partnered with the Thai Office of Narcotics Control Board on a range of mattes to combat the movement of illicit drugs.

Immigration – strengthening migration frameworks. Our immigration team focuses on administering Australia’s migration policies. In the past year improvements to our visa processing systems allowed us to deliver services in line with expectations, particularly in the busy Songkran peak period. We continue to collaborate with the Thai Immigration Bureau on issues of mutual interest such as irregular migration, people smuggling, human trafficking and migration-related offences.

Infrastructure – upholding aviation and maritime security standards. There was the engagement to support Australia’s bilateral transport relationship with the Thai Government. We worked with Thai officials and industry to promote aviation and maritime security standards. There was also the signing of a new air services agreement to modernise the legal framework that governs air services between Australia and Thailand.

Australian Federal Police – preventing and disrupting crime. For 39 years the AFP has maintained bilateral law enforcement cooperation with Thailand in its fight against off shore crime. Through a joint task force the AFP worked collaboratively with all Thai law enforcement agencies and the Thai Ministry of Justice to counter and disrupt transnational organised crime.

So there you have it – Australia in Thailand. If you want to know more or find out information about the Australian Embassy in Bangkok and some of the services please refer to their website here.

AUSTCHAM – Business, Connections, Community

Separate to the Australian Embassy is the Australian Thai Chamber of Commerce. AustCham maintains a general overview of the business environment in Thailand and Australia. Our greatest strength lies in our ability to access and connect members (and non-members) via our extensive network of experts in specific areas. We have a strong relationship with the Australian Embassy and also with key Thai government departments and agencies. Don’t hesitate to contact them if you think they can help.

Business, Connections, Community – these three simple words articulate the purpose and value of the Chamber, members organisation in Thailand.

AustCham means Business! We focus particularly on Australian businesses in Thailand and Thai businesses with an interest in Australia. That is not to say that we are exclusively Australian, Thai or anything else. Australia as a nation prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming. AustCham embraces these values so membership is open to any business or individual with an interest in Australia-Thai commerce.

AustCham makes Connections! One of the greatest values of a business chamber is its ability to make connections. AustCham is arguably the best in Thailand. We offer diverse events that help to bring people together. Our monthly Bangkok Sundowners business networking events are legendary, routinely bringing together around 300 executives at some of the best locations in town. Online connections can be made via social media and through our website, helping business people connect through our membership directory and member forum.

AustCham builds Community! AustCham also plays a valuable community role. We are a focal point for the Australian (and broader) expatriate community in Thailand and an important bridge into the Thai community. We run an active community services program which contributes to a range of social and charitable programs in Thailand.

To learn more or contact AUSTCHAM see their website here. Watch this video for a great look at Austcham


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