Swiss-Thai relations are based on a regular political dialogue and substantial economic exchanges. The ties between the two countries are also boosted by the number of well-established Swiss companies in Thailand and the size of the expat communities in each respective country – the Swiss community in Thailand is the largest in Asia for example – as well as tourism.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Thailand have maintained diplomatic relations since 1931. The two countries have also engaged in regular political dialogue since 2011.Furthermore, Switzerland also cooperates with Thailand within the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Switzerland became sectoral dialogue partner in 2016.
The Swiss embassy in Bangkok has been providing all consular services for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar since 2012.
The Thai embassy in Switzerland is located in Bern. Thailand also has a mission in Geneva and honorary consulates in Basel, Zurich and Geneva.
Thailand is one of Switzerland's most important trading partners in South-East Asia. Swiss pharmaceutical products, precision instruments for the manufacturing industry and luxury goods are valued highly in Thailand. The main Thai exports to Switzerland are precious stones and metals. In 2020, talks were initiated aimed at resuming negotiations between Thailand and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member.
Thailand is a popular destination for Swiss tourists, as is Switzerland for Thai tourists. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, each year more than 200,000 Swiss tourists visited Thailand, and more than 150,000 Thai tourists came to Switzerland.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is responsible for implementing Switzerland's international strategy on education, research and innovation.
Students and researchers from Thailand are eligible to apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Through its humanitarian aid programme, the SDC has provided Thailand with support during natural disasters, such as the tsunami in December 2004 and the floods in 2011.
Two regional specialists in disaster risk reduction and disaster management have been based in Bangkok since 2013 to support SDC projects in South-East Asia and the Pacific region and to respond to natural disasters in both regions. The two specialists are also helping ASEAN to step up its disaster risk management and rapid response capabilities.
Swiss nationals in Thailand
As of April 2021, a total of 9,829 Swiss nationals were registered as resident in Thailand by the Swiss embassy in Bangkok.
History of bilateral relations
The first documented contacts between Switzerland and Thailand date back to the 17th century. After touring the Kingdom of Siam, Swiss missionaries published accounts of their travels. In the 19th century, Swiss textile companies looked for new business opportunities in South-East Asia.
As early as 1895, the Kingdom of Siam acceded to the Universal Postal Union in Bern and the first Geneva Convention. A Swiss-Thai treaty of friendship and trade signed in 1931 marked the beginning of official relations between the two countries. Switzerland opened a consulate in Bangkok in 1932 and accredited its embassy in New Delhi to Thailand in 1949. In 1959, the Swiss consulate in Bangkok was upgraded to an embassy.
Switzerland and Thailand celebrated 90 years of diplomatic relations in 2021.