Joint Communiqué with the Prime Minister of Thailand
MON 28 MAY 2012
Prime Minister Gillard warmly welcomed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to Australia on 28 May 2012. Prime Minister Yingluck’s visit was especially significant as it marked the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations. Their meeting was followed by a joint meeting of Australian and Thai Cabinet Ministers.
The foundations of the partnership were established decades ago and have been strengthened by the growth of people-to-people links, security cooperation, trade and investment ties, and shared interests in a prosperous and stable region. Prime Minister Yingluck informed Prime Minister Gillard about the political situation in Thailand following the general election in July 2011. The two Prime Ministers agreed to work together as partners and to intensify bilateral and regional cooperation in all dimensions to meet the challenges and opportunities arising from the profound shifts occurring in the region.
Strong people to people links
The two Prime Ministers welcomed efforts to increase the numbers of Australians and Thais visiting each other’s country. Leaders looked forward to the forthcoming visit to Australia by Thailand’s Australia-Thailand Parliamentary Friendship Group and welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Political Exchange Council and King Prajadhipok’s Institute to establish an exchange program between young political leaders. The Prime Ministers also looked forward to a separate visit to Australia by three young Thai female MPs under a program funded by the Australia Thailand Institute, and the visit of Australia’s Global Ambassador for Women and Girls to Thailand in the coming year.
Enhanced trade and investment ties
Since the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) entered into force in 2005, bilateral trade has doubled, amounting to nearly A$20 billion. Australia is Thailand’s 6th largest trading partner, and Thailand is Australia’s 9th largest. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to expand trade and investment ties by working together in 2012 to complete a general review of TAFTA and a review of its provisions on special agricultural safeguards. Leaders looked forward to strong progress on this agenda leading to a ministerial TAFTA Joint Commission meeting. Both leaders stressed the importance, in the meantime, of efforts to address specific issues posing impediments to trade. They also undertook to identify ways for the two countries to cooperate on maximising the benefits of the growing regional free trade agenda. Prime Ministers looked forward to the commencement of negotiations on a new Air Services Agreement and to a review of the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation to enhance investment between the two countries.
Education is a pillar of the bilateral relationship. Prime Minister Yingluck noted that 2012 is Thailand’s “Year of Speaking English” and welcomed bilateral cooperation on English language education. Prime Minister Gillard reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to boosting Asian literacy and encouraged Australian education providers to offer programs in Thailand. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Education Co-operation to encourage collaboration between Australian and Thai educational and training institutions. Prime Minister Gillard was pleased to announce the new Discover Thailand scholarship program which will provide assistance to Australians studying in Thailand, as well as partnerships between Australian and Thai schools to boost Asian literacy. Prime Minister Yingluck underlined the importance of vocational training where Australia has expertise and best practice. Both sides looked forward to stronger cooperation in industries such as energy, mining, agriculture, hospitality and tourism.
Disaster management cooperation
Prime Minister Gillard expressed Australia’s deep regret at Thailand’s losses during the devastating floods in 2011. Leaders agreed to strengthen bilateral and regional cooperation on disaster preparedness and response, particularly by improving water management capabilities. They looked forward to the visit to Australia by a high-level Thai delegation to examine Australian disaster response and emergency communications capabilities.
Prime Ministers recognised the potential for enhanced work on energy cooperation. They emphasised the importance of promoting the development and use of clean and renewable energy, including through research and development into advanced coal technologies. Leaders looked forward to a visit to Australia by a high-level Thai delegation to explore investment opportunities and share experiences on energy policies.
Australia and Thailand are both major agricultural producing and exporting countries. The Prime Ministers committed to work together on food safety and food security, including as members of the Cairns Group. They looked forward to Australia and Thailand co-hosting the 20th meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems in Thailand in 2013.
Thailand and Australia enjoy a strong and mature security partnership, including deep defence, counter-terrorism and people smuggling ties. They agreed to continue to pursue regional solutions to people smuggling through the Bali Process. Prime Minister Gillard welcomed Thailand’s support for establishing the Bali Process Regional Support Office in Bangkok to assist in the operation of the Regional Cooperation Framework. The two Prime Ministers looked forward to finalising a bilateral Extradition Treaty.
Regional and global cooperation
The two Prime Ministers committed to enhanced collaboration in regional and global fora, strengthening partnerships in the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. The two Prime Ministers expressed support for each other’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council - for Australia in 2013-2014 and Thailand in 2017-2018. Prime Minister Gillard expressed her appreciation for Thailand’s work at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.