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.

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