Thailand, New Zealand Boost Ties With Strategic Partnership

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin welcomed his counterpart from New Zealand, Christopher Luxon, to the Government House in Bangkok on Wednesday during Luxon’s second stop on his Southeast Asian tour.

The two leaders observed the signing of two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between agencies from Thailand and New Zealand.

These included an agreement between Thailand’s Office of the Basic Education Commission and New Zealand’s Massey University, and another on supply, repair, and maintenance support between Thai Aviation Industries and New Zealand’s NZSkydive.

During the subsequent joint press conference, Srettha expressed his honor in hosting Luxon and his delegation, noting it as the first visit by a New Zealand prime minister to Thailand in 11 years.

Srettha recounted a comprehensive and productive discussion with Luxon and a fruitful dialogue with the New Zealand business delegation, aiming to enhance cooperation and expand partnerships between the two nations.

He announced that both sides agreed to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a “strategic partnership” by 2026 or earlier, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

Srettha further mentioned commitments by Thailand and New Zealand to bolster defence and security collaborations through the Thailand-New Zealand Defence Cooperation Plan.

They also plan to deepen efforts in combating transnational organized crime, including human and drug trafficking, cybersecurity, terrorism, and violent extremism.

The two countries resolved to boost economic ties with the goal of tripling their bilateral trade by 2045, aligning with the milestones set by the Thailand-New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership, which has already tripled trade since starting in 2005.

Srettha pledged to enhance cooperation with New Zealand in fields such as science, technology, and innovation, focusing on areas like agri-tech, smart farming, food technology, renewable energy, precision medicine, and digital technology.

He also hoped the interactions with New Zealand business leaders would lead to future investments in Thailand, especially in key industries and initiatives like the Land Bridge Project.

The two prime ministers acknowledged the process in improving people-to-people connections, with New Zealand hosting approximately 13,000 Thai nationals and serving as a valued destination for Thai students and scholars. They agreed to strengthen educational and cultural collaboration.

Regarding tourism, they agreed to make visa processes easier and to resume direct flights to help meet their tourism targets of 100,000 visitors from New Zealand to Thailand and 40,000 Thai tourists to New Zealand by the following year.

The leaders discussed their nations’ contributions to regional and global peace, stability, sustainability, and prosperity.

Srettha welcomed New Zealand’s intention to join the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and its ongoing strategic partnership with ASEAN, with aims to become a comprehensive strategic partner by 2025.

Srettha thanked the New Zealand Prime Minister for supporting Thailand’s bid for OECD membership and for backing Thailand’s candidacy for the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2025-2027 term.

He also expressed confidence that the ongoing collaboration and connections between the people of the two countries would strengthen their friendship and partnership for many years to come.