Thailand has enjoyed a long-standing, close relationship with Indonesia. Our relationship dated back to the 18th Century. The cordial and close ties were initiated by the Royal visits of His Majesty the late King Chulalongkorn (King Rama V) of Thailand to Indonesia in 1871, 1896 and 1901, respectively, followed by the visit of His Majesty the late King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) of Thailand to Indonesia in 1929. Moreover, after the coronation, Indonesia was among the first countries His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX) and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of the Ninth Reign chose to pay a state visit. His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, the present King (King Rama X), also paid a visit to Indonesia when he was the Crown Prince in 1986.
On 7 March 1950, Thailand and Indonesia established diplomatic relations between each other. Since then, the relations have continuously grown at all levels and in all dimensions. With 67 years of diplomatic relations, the two countries have become not only close friends but also ASEAN companions and partners who share vast interests on both regional and international issues.
There have been regular exchanges of high-level visits, including a number of visits by former and current Indonesian Presidents to Thailand and by former and the current Thai Prime Ministers to Indonesia. Lately, H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand, visited Jakarta to attend the Asian-African Conference Summit on 21-23 April 2015. Furthermore, both sides have bilateral mechanisms to enhance cooperation, including the Joint Commission (JC) at the Foreign Minister level. The 9th JC meeting is scheduled to convene at the earliest opportunity.
Furthermore, Thailand and Indonesia have never had any conflicts with each other. Instead, both sides have helped each other in difficult times. For example, Indonesia sent oil to Thailand during the World’s oil crisis in 1970 and provided financial support to Thailand during the 1997 Asian financial crisis. At the same time, Thailand dispatched troops to participate in peacekeeping operations in East Timor in 1999 as well as played a significant and constructive role in the peace-making process in Aceh.
On security, cooperation between the two countries has been expansive and vibrant. Both sides have been working closely on a wide range of issues for the peace and stability in the region, such as intelligence exchange, suppression of transnational crimes, counter-radicalization as well as promotion of moderate Muslim and interfaith dialogue. The two Armed Forces have also enjoyed a very close and cordial partnership, marked by the regular exchanges of senior officials and delegations, and several collaborative programs such as the joint patrol among Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in Strait of Malacca and Indonesia’s participation in the Cobra Gold joint military exercise program aimed to jointly enhance capabilities in providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Later this year, the Thai and Indonesian Armed Forces will also convene the 10th Thailand – Indonesia High-Level Committee (HLC) (co-chaired by Chiefs of the Armed Forces) in Indonesia to further strengthen security collaboration.
On the economic front, Indonesia is Thailand’s 6th largest trading partner and 3rd largest trading partner in ASEAN. In 2016, our bilateral trade valued at over 14.5 billion USD. Thailand’s top 5 exports to Indonesia include automotive parts, sugar, polymers, chemical products, and machinery and parts. The top imports from Indonesia to Thailand are crude oil, coal, vehicle parts, machinery and chemicals.
Tourism between our two countries is also steadily rising. In 2016, roughly 500,000 Indonesian tourists visited Thailand and about 100,000 Thai tourists visited Indonesia. Both countries are popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. Increasing bilateral cooperation in this area is important as tourism is a primary driver for economic growth in Thailand as well as a top priority sector for the Indonesian government.
In 2016, Thailand’s investment in Indonesia totaled over 338 million USD, a significant increase of almost 200% from 174 million USD in 2015. Major Thai businesses have invested in Indonesia, namely, Siam Cement Group (SCG), Banpu Co. Ltd., Sri Trang, Central, PTT, Bangkok Bank, and Thai Summit – all of which look forward to further expanding their operations. Moreover, many more Thai investors are also looking for potential business opportunities. However, some Thai investors like other foreign investors, have faced a few challenges when doing business in Indonesia, some of which include policy uncertainty, a complicated tax system, rules and regulations on work permits, and delay in obtaining licenses. Nonetheless, Thailand is confident that with reforms in place, economic opportunities and investment will expand in the future.
Beyond the bilateral context, Indonesia and Thailand are the largest and 2nd largest economies in Southeast Asia, and have jointly contributed to regional cooperation in the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) and the ASEAN fora.
Technical cooperation has been instrumental in the Thailand-Indonesia bilateral relations. Since 2011, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn launched the Collaboration Project between Thailand and Indonesia on Children and Youth Development and now there are eight primary schools in Bogor and Ternate participating in the project. In addition, Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand initiated the Annual International Training Course (AITC) offering annually a wide range of training programmes with fellowships awarded by the Royal Thai Government to participants from more than 50 countries, including Indonesia. Available training courses for the year 2016-2019 focus on development topics of Thailand’s expertise which can be categorized under five themes, i.e, the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Food Security, Climate Change, Public Health and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Thailand and Indonesia also have the Consultation Meeting on Technical Cooperation, coordinated by Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) and the Directorate General of Information and Public Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, as a mechanism of exchanging and sharing expertise and experiences with one another.
Bilateral ties and friendship between Thailand and Indonesia have continuously been enhanced by frequent cultural exchanges and people to people contact.
Recently, the two countries celebrated the 65th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations in that the Embassy of Indonesia in Thailand organised a painting competition under the theme of “Thailand and Indonesia in My Mind” and published Thai language version of the novel “Sukreni Gadis Bali”, authored by Anak Agung Pandji Tisna in 2015, while the Royal Thai Embassy with the cooperation of Ministry of Culture of Thailand led the Thai Khon performers to jointly performed Ramayana at the Open Theatre of Prambanan in Yogyakarta in July 2017.
Moreover, a lot of Thai Buddhist visitors pay respect to Borobudur Temple, considered as one of the best Buddhist marvelous architectures in Indonesia. Both the Thai and Indonesian Governments have supported each other the increase of flight frequency between the two countries to serve two-way tourism.
Royal Thai Embassy in Jakarta