90 Years of Friendship between Switzerland and Thailand

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Dear friends of Thailand and Switzerland, grüezi, bonjour, buon giorno, allegra,

Ten times nine represents a lot of good luck and happiness in Thai culture. 9 or kao is the luckiest number of all and when pronounced it is similar to kaw-nah – moving forward. Amid the biggest public health and global economic crisis of our times, moving forward sounds exactly right. Let us take this auspicious moment in our bilateral relations as a symbol of long-lasting friendship and renewed hope of a better future to come.

Formal relations by two countries are of great importance and Swiss and Thai government officials meet regularly at all levels. However, people-to-people relations weave the tissue of a true and every lasting friendship. The Swiss-Thai relationship is rich in all aspects; allow me to focus on just two important facets:

Wat Srinagarindravararam, Gretzenbach SO
Light Art by Gerry Hofstetter. Foto Céline Hofstetter

Thailand hosts the most important Swiss expat community in Asia. Roughly 9,600 Swiss citizens have decided to make Thailand their home. On top of this impressive number, many Swiss retirees spend a portion of the year in Thailand and consider it their home away from home. Our country seems to be equally attractive, since in 2019, there were 9,400 Thais residing in Switzerland. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, 200,000 Swiss tourists visited beautiful Thailand annually. Swiss tourists enjoy the warm and sunny weather, beaches, untouched nature of the more remote areas, Thai culture and the gentle manner of people, the ambiance on the rooftops of Bangkok and of course local food. For my country, Thailand has become the biggest source market for tourism. In 2019, 150,000 Thais visited Switzerland. This explains why I meet so many people here who describe to me in great details the beauty of Swiss mountains, lakes, nature, and historic sites. It is utterly amazing to feel the mutual admiration towards our respective countries.

Both Thailand and Switzerland have prospered during the globalization of the world economy and my team and I are very committed to enhancing both trade between our two countries and investment from Thailand to Switzerland. In 2019, Switzerland is Thailand’s 2nd largest trading partner in Europe; 200 Swiss companies have invested in Thailand, which makes Switzerland the 12th largest foreign direct investor. Our two economies complement each other well, and therefore Switzerland, as a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), welcomes recent preliminary talks to restart negotiations for a free trade agreement.

Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between Siam and Switzerland concluded on 28 May 1931

Switzerland may not be Thailand’s oldest friend and vice versa, but throughout the past nine decades, we have managed to get the draft Treaty of Friendship and Commerce between the Kingdom of Thailand and Switzerland concluded in Tokyo on 28 May 1931, and give it meaning and real-life dimensions. At the Swiss Embassy in Bangkok, we will seize the 90 years celebrations to build on the past and come out with an even stronger footprint of the Swiss presence in Thailand. I feel privileged and blessed to be the Swiss Ambassador to Thailand at such a crucial juncture of our bilateral relationship and the entire Embassy team and I personally look forward to sharing this incredible experience with His Excellency Mr. Chakri Srichawana, Ambassador of Thailand to Switzerland, and his gifted and hard-working team.

With heartfelt wishes from the land of smiles.

*****************

Helene Budliger Artieda,
Ambassador of Switzerland to Thailand in Bangkok
(2019 – Present)

Mrs. Helene Budliger Artieda is currently Ambassador of Switzerland to Thailand. She graduated with an MBA from Externado de Colombia University in Bogota and joined the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in 1985. Before her post in Bangkok, she served as Swiss Ambassador to South Africa, Director General of the Directorate for Resources at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), and the Minister’s principal advisor on management issues. She had also previously been posted at the Swiss missions in Lagos, Havana, San Francisco, Strasbourg, Lima and Bogota.

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