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Australia Day message from the Australian Ambassador to Thailand

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PHUKET: Australia Day is the ideal day to reflect on Australia’s domestic and international achievements. It is also an opportunity for Australians and Thais alike to celebrate and reflect on the relationship between our two countries.

Over several generations, Australians and Thais have built a solid bilateral relationship, establishing excellent models of cooperation and finding new ways to learn and profit from each other – in all walks of life.

On this day, we celebrate the Australia-Thailand relationship that is as broad as it is deep. In addition to celebrating, on Australia Day we should also focus on the untapped potential in the relationship. We can still make a wonderful relationship even better.

As our countries continue to grow, I would like to highlight some key aspects of our bilateral relationship.

Our strong trade and investment relationship is underpinned by the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Thailand is Australia’s eighth largest trading partner with over AU$19 billion (570 billion baht) worth of two-way trade in 2012-2013. Our trade partnership has grown 3.6 times faster than Australia’s global trade relations in the past 20 years and Thai investment in Australia is also increasing, worth AU$7.3 billion (219 billion baht). We are also encouraging more Australian investment in Thailand, currently valued at AU$2.8 billion (84 billion baht).

Education exchange is at the heart Australia-Thailand relations. Today, approximately 20,000 Thais have enrolled in Australian courses, creating a more fulfilling educational and community experience for all.

Our educational ties will continue to strengthen with more students being awarded our Endeavour awards and scholarships. The Australian Embassy is currently working with Australia’s universities to increase the number of students studying in Thailand.

The New Colombo Plan 2014 pilot program, launched last year by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop, will send undergraduate students abroad to become Asia-literate, build friendships and strengthen ties with neighbours in the Asia-Pacific. The Australian Government has committed AU$100 million worth of funding over the next five years to implement the plan. The program which is expected to commence in Thailand as well as other parts of the region in 2015, aims to make studying in the region a rite of passage for Australian students.

Australians continue to value the generous hospitality of Thais, with over 900,000 Australians arriving in Thailand in 2013. Phuket remains one of the most popular destinations for Australian tourists.

To all Australians holidaying, living and working in Thailand, I wish you a happy and safe Australia Day.

We also encourage all Australians in Thailand to register at smarttraveller.gov.au.

– James Wise, Australian Ambassador to Thailand

— James Wise

 

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