Wed, 06 December 2023
December is a highly significant month for Thailand and its nationals. The South East Asian country will celebrate its National Day, commemorate the birthday of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and mark Thai Father’s Day. Kristian Harrison sat down with the Thai Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, HE Piyapak Sricharoen, to talk about the country’s friendly relationship with Bahrain.
Your Excellency, thank you for speaking to us! What are your top priorities as the Thai Ambassador?
I think first and foremost is to maintain the very strong friendship between the two countries. I have witnessed first-hand that the Thai community in Bahrain is extremely happy to be here. My top priority, as part of this friendship, is that we have to advance our economic relationship and so the economic agenda is a very important part of my work here, chiefly supporting Thai businesses and bringing in new types of industry.
What is the current state of relations between Thailand and Bahrain? What are some of the key areas of cooperation between the two countries?
Our friendship is close and enduring. There are constant high level exchanges of visits as well as a substantial and growing economic relationship : the Thai Mart in Muharraq being a notable Thai presence in Bahrain. The connectivity is also excellent, thanks to Gulf Air. We are looking to enhance economic cooperation, trade facilitation, as well as cooperation on food security, health and well being, and education, among others.
What are some of the challenges facing the Thai-Bahraini relationship, and how do you plan to address them?
There are very few challenges, which is a good thing. What I would say is that due to time constraints and the amount of activities we take part in from both sides, sometimes arranging meetings can take some time but this is such a minor issue. On a more general level, our greatest challenge is from the travel side and disseminating information and raising awareness for engagement in terms of both tourism and business between the two countries. I believe that people could maximise their opportunities for both a little better. For example, Thailand has so many more places to go than say Phuket, Pattaya or Bangkok.
What are your thoughts on the recent increase in trade and investment between Thailand and Bahrain? What areas of cooperation do you see growing in the future?
The upturn in trade has been excellent, in particular in areas such as motoring, marine engineering and electronics. What I’d like to see more of is more Thai daily-use products and construction materials as I believe we can boost that industry with products available from Thailand. I think the main area of growth will be food security and agriculture, as Bahrain is rapidly advancing in this regard.
What can the Thai government do to support Thai businesses and entrepreneurs who are interested in expanding into the Bahraini market, and how can the Bahraini government create a welcoming environment?
The new Thai government has a strong focus on helping Thai businesses to go abroad. For example, just this month, with the support of the Thai Trade Centre in Dubai, Thai cosmetics and perfume brands were present at Scent Arabia Exhibition for the first time with more active promotion from the Thai side.
Further down the road there is strong potential for hastening trade agreements between the two countries. Already there is progress ON ASEAN - GCC free trade agreement, and I hope this can be concluded soon.
What are your thoughts on the role of tourism in strengthening Thai-Bahrain relations?
It’s hugely important. More than 10,000 Bahrainis visit Thailand every year, which is a significant number compared to the population here. Of course, the cuisine is hugely popular in Bahrain too with a number of popular outlets serving Thai food. Furthermore, I think with more international events being held in Bahrain such as the Formula One, concerts, and more, it’s becoming an important destination for Thais.
What are your thoughts on the people-to-people relations between Thailand and Bahrain? What do you think can be done to further strengthen these relations?
I have to say that the friendship between the two peoples is already really close and I think that there are so many things to exchange in terms of culture as on both, the Thai and Bahraini side, it is so rich and historic. I think that the youth of today, in particular, are really connected. They are exchanging ideas, their artistic experiences, and having joint activities will certainly enhance their life experiences and opportunities for them.
One of the things that we have explored with inspiration from the Bahraini government is to find internship programmes from our big companies in Thailand. This will allow short-term and medium-term internships in Thailand and hopefully that could be a part of our portfolio for promoting the new generation of Thais and Bahrainis to get to know each other better.
What is your message for the Thai community in Bahrain?
Thank you for proudly representing Thailand in Bahrain, bringing our unique culture, traditions, and especially food. I wish everyone continued happiness, success, and good health.