France 3rd EU nation to push for beefed-up ties
During the first formal visit of a French minister to Thailand since the Macron administration came into power, the Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Bapitiste Lemoyne, set a goal to further strengthen bilateral economic and other ties.
“France will push for a new thrust in the FTA negotiations between the EU and Thailand because we need partners to bolster the multilateral trade system,” Mr Lemoyne told the press at the Alliance Francaise. The French foreign minister’s visit was the third from the EU, following Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano’s trip last Friday and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit on Monday, since the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council’s decision to resume political contacts at all levels late last year. All three vowed to push for more economic cooperation.
On Tuesday, the French minister arrived in Bangkok to discuss strategies to extend economic ties. “As Thailand embarks on its 4.0 strategy and on an ambitious plan to boost its infrastructure, French companies are also ready to contribute to this initiative along with the Eastern Economic Corridor such as developments at U-tapao [airport]. Many synergies are possible,” Mr Lemoyne said.
During his two-day visit, he had a chance to meet several members of the government such as Kobsak Pootrakool, Minister of Science and Technology Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Industry Utama Savanayon, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Virasakdi Futrakul and Deputy Minister of Transport Pairin Chuchottaworn.
Mr Lemoyne also met Thai investors about economic reforms implemented by the French government and promoting France’s high-calibre assets such as its aerospace and transportation industries. “We hope to see growth in investments from Thai investors, and also more investments in the kingdom of Thailand from French companies as well. Michelin alone, has over 7,000 employees in the country,” Mr Lemoyne said.
A key element for Thailand in boosting ties with the EU is the government’s roadmap to democracy, a core value of the EU. The French also prioritised their agenda on regional issues, including the Rohingya crisis, with Thai authorities, he said.