On 28 November 2018, H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, accompanied by several ministers, held discussions over a working lunch with Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German side at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. The two leaders exchanged views on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest and ways to strengthen bilateral relations, partnership on Industry 4.0, development cooperation in various sectors, and enhanced partnership at the regional and global levels.
Strengthening High-Level Cooperation for Peace and Mutual Prosperity
The two leaders emphasised their shared value of promoting regionalism and multilateralism to help maintain peace, stability and security in Asia, Europe and the world at large. Next year, Thailand will assume ASEAN Chairmanship and Germany will begin its tenure as a non-Permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The two countries agreed to work closely on issues of importance and relevance to their respective regions and in addressing regional and global challenges, including to promote the connectivity between Europe and ASEAN, as well as Asia in all dimensions.
The Prime Minister of Thailand also invited Chancellor Merkel to visit Thailand during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2019.
Partnership for Development
The Prime Minister of Thailand and Chancellor of Germany reaffirmed their commitment to building on the partnership for development between their two countries in priority sectors, including developing a green economy and tackling climate change. In this respect, Thailand will continue to promote the development approach of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) for the benefit of the people in order to leave no one behind and realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The two leaders also reaffirmed their interest in enhancing trilateral development cooperation with friends and neighbouring countries of Thailand, particularly with regard to resolving the problem of drugs and developing primary healthcare infrastructure along the border areas. They also pledged to work closely within ASEAN frameworks. Furthermore, the Prime Minister of Thailand invited Germany to become a Development Partner of Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya - Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), whose Master Plan focuses on promoting seamless connectivity with Thailand as the regional hub.
Strengthening Strategic Economic Partnership in All Dimensions
Both leaders agreed to strengthen the strategic economic partnership in the areas of trade and investment between the two countries, particularly in Industry 4.0, in which Germany has expertise. To this end, they agreed to collaborate on the research and development of technology that would be of benefit for the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and targeted industries in Thailand, particularly, the rail system and next-generation automotive industry.
Thailand and Germany will also work together to develop human resources in preparation for Industry 4.0 as well as to promote inclusive growth. This includes building the capacity of SMEs and Start-Ups as well as enhancing Vocational Education. Thailand believes that this partnership will help the country to become a high-income country within 20 years, in accordance with the objectives laid out in the 20-year National Strategy.
The Prime Minister of Thailand also requested Germany to play a role in encouraging the European Union (EU) to resume negotiations of a Thailand-EU FTA as well as an ASEAN-EU FTA, in response to the call of the private sectors of both sides. The Prime Minister asked that Chancellor Merkel facilitate Thai investors in Germany, wherever possible, for they represent close to 20 large companies as well as a significant number of SMEs. At the same time, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his intentions of facilitating German investors in Thailand, wherever possible, for they are the biggest investors in Thailand among the EU countries.
Chancellor Merkel acknowledged Thailand’s progress in addressing Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Thai Prime Minister suggested for the German side to kindly explain to the EU that the Thai efforts to combat IUU fishing is not merely for the withdrawal of the EU’s yellow card, but also for conserving marine resources which belong to everyone.
The German Chancellor supported the Thai Prime Minister’s efforts in holding free and fair elections. The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation in this regard and reassured that the election be held around February 2019. He also expressed his confidence that the Election Commission would do its utmost in organising free and fair elections.
The leaders of both sides agreed to reactivate the Thai-German Joint Economic Committee (JEC) as a follow-up mechanism to ensure concrete outcomes of this visit.