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Embassy of SwedenBangkok, Thailand

Local time 4:08 AM

Reflecting on 156 years of shared history and charting a path of cooperation ahead

Dear Readers,

Today marks a significant milestone in the enduring friendship between Sweden and Thailand. On 18 May 1868, during the reign of King Mongkut, Siam signed the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation with Sweden, laying the foundation for the longstanding relations between our nations.

Over the past 156 years, Thailand and Sweden have cultivated a deep and multifaceted relationship across various sectors and at all levels. Starting with the Royal Families, the historic visit of King Chulalongkorn to Sweden in 1897 laid the foundation for a lasting friendship between the two kingdoms.

Earlier this week, their Majesties the Queens of both Thailand and Sweden attended the Child Protection Summit in Bangkok which underscored a shared commitment of nurturing and safeguarding the welfare of children worldwide.

Our bilateral ties are robust, encompassing political dialogue, defense collaboration, and economic partnerships, further enriched by the active engagement of the vibrant Swedish business sector. For instance, Ericsson, a pioneer in telecommunications, delivered a station for Bangkok with 2,400 subscriber lines as early as in 1908. Today, Ericsson continues to collaborate with numerous Thai companies to deliver state-of-the-art 5G solutions, driving Thailand's digital transformation and advancing its digital economy agenda. Similarly, Scania delivered its first ambulance to Siam over a century ago. Presently, Scania trucks can be seen on Thai roads, playing a crucial role in the country's logistics network and economic growth.

Our commercial relations with Thailand are not only deeply rooted in history but also thrive in the present day. Last year, our bilateral trade exceeded 1.3 billion USD, highlighting the strength of our economic partnership. With over 100 Swedish companies investing and operating in Thailand, our collaboration continues to flourish, bringing mutual benefits to both countries. These enterprises play a vital role in Thailand's economy, creating over 100,000 jobs in Thailand and injecting more than 170 billion Baht into the economy annually. Swedish companies’ contributions extend beyond financial impact as they are also fostering innovation, knowledge exchange, technological transfer and bring in best practices in both sustainability and working conditions. Sweden is renowned for its commitment to sustainable business practices as well as green innovations and solutions that minimize environmental impact while maximizing positive contributions to society and the economy.

This dedication to sustainability is reflected in various initiatives undertaken by Swedish companies in Thailand. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote equal opportunities are just some examples. For example, just last month, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and the Swedish Trade and Invest Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding to exchange knowledge and technologies on biomass energy and hydrogen energy storage system, with the aim to increase the share of electricity from clean energy and achieve Net Zero emissions.

And when it comes to equality, at least 12 Swedish companies in Thailand have voluntarily implemented policies allowing male employees to take one month of paid paternity leave per year. This proactive measure not only promotes gender equality in the workplace but also supports a healthy work-life balance for employees.

By championing such progressive policies, Swedish companies in Thailand are not only driving positive change within their own organizations but also setting an example for the broader business community.

Looking ahead, the outlook remains promising for strengthening the Thai Swedish commercial ties. A recent survey reveals that 40% of Swedish companies already present in Thailand are planning to expand their workforce in 2024, underscoring the confidence in Thailand's economic potential and their commitment to its growth and development. With the Swedish longstanding presence here, we remain committed to our enduring partnership. We are also actively exploring new avenues of cooperation and innovation that will drive our partnership to even greater heights.

On another note, despite the over 5,000 miles that separate our countries, other bonds between Sweden and Thailand are remarkably close. More than 70,000 Thai people have made Sweden their home, contributing to the rich fabric of the diverse Swedish society. Likewise, a significant number of Swedes have chosen to settle in every region of Thailand, fostering connections and mutual understanding between our peoples.

Last year alone, over 200,000 Swedish tourists visited Thailand, attracted by its vibrant culture, tropical climate, delectable cuisine, and, most importantly, the warm and generous hospitality of the Thai people. Their fondness for Thailand, combined with Sweden's tradition of long summer holidays, translates into substantial economic impact, with Swedish tourists spending approximately 26.2 billion Baht in Thailand annually.

For the future development of our ties and for exchange of know-how it is promising that over 40 dynamic partnerships between our universities exist. We have woven a network of collaboration that spans from student, scholarship and internship programs to faculty exchange agreements to and joint research initiatives. For Thailand the academic partnerships have proudly produced an alumnus of over 600 Thai graduates from Swedish institutions, each equipped with world-class education and a global perspective. These bright minds are the architects of tomorrow’s Thailand, laying the groundwork for continued knowledge sharing and capacity building.  

As we reflect on our shared history, we march forward on this path together, united in our commitment to mutual prosperity and progress. Sweden remains steadfast in our role as a supportive friend and partner to Thailand, standing ready to collaborate on new opportunities and address shared challenges.

Anna Hammargren
Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand

Last updated 17 May 2024, 8.08 AM