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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Thailand
The strong presence of Swiss companies in Thailand combined with tourism and the significant number of Thai citizens in Switzerland, and of Swiss citizens in Thailand have all helped to strengthen ties between the two countries.
Relations between the two countries are good and are concentrated on trade and tourism.
Since 28 May 2012 all consular services are treated by the Regional Consular Centre in Bangkok, which also provides services for Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar.
Swiss consumer and luxury goods are very popular in Thailand, in addition to which Swiss machinery and precision instruments for the manufacturing industry also enjoy a good reputation. In 2011, Switzerland was Thailand's eleventh most important trading partner, making it the most important European trading partner. As far as direct investment in Thailand is concerned Switzerland occupied 18th place. In 2010, Swiss companies employed 50,644 staff in Thailand.
Switzerland is the most important European destination for tourists from Thailand. In 2010, 51,907 Thai citizens visited Switzerland and booked 85,851 overnight stays. This makes Thai nationals the sixth most important group of tourists from Asia. In the same year 155,000 Swiss tourists were registered as visiting Thailand, which amounts to around 1% of the total number of tourist visits to Thailand.
Foreign scholars and artists from Thailand can apply to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
The tsunami in the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004 triggered widespread Swiss sympathy for the victims and solidarity with them. Switzerland helped with the identification of the victims and the reconstruction of three fishing villages.
At the end of 2011 there were 6891 Swiss nationals resident in Thailand, of whom 2527 have dual citizenship.
The first documented contacts between Switzerland and Thailand date back to the 17th century, when Swiss missionaries published reports of their visits to the kingdom of Siam. In the 19th century Swiss textile industrialists were looking for new markets in south-east Asia.
The kingdom of Siam joined the Universal Postal Union in Bern and the Geneva Red Cross Convention as long ago as 1895. After the first visit of the Thai monarch to Switzerland in 1897, representatives of the two countries negotiated the conclusion of a Friendship and Trade Agreement; however, it was not signed until 1931. Switzerland opened an Honorary Consulate in Bangkok in 1932, and an embassy in 1949.