France keen to broaden ties with Thailand
Many French companies are interested in investing in the Eastern Economic Corridor, according to French ambassador to Thailand Jacques Lapouge.
Among them are companies with expertise in railways and engineering, wastewater management, technology and smart cities, and also scientific research, he said.
These are in addition to the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities at U-Tapao airport and the purchase of the Theos-2 satellite by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.
The ambassador, who took up his post in the kingdom last September, was speaking at a press conference with the Thai media on Monday to mark Bastille Day on July 14.
Although the free trade negotiations between the two countries will be in the EU-Thailand FTA framework, the ambassador said he was looking forward to progress.
The EU-FTA negotiations were halted after the military coup in Thailand in 2014. Political contact with Thailand resumed fully in late 2017 as a reward for the country's progress towards restoring democracy.
In June last year, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha met French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Paris.
In Toulouse, he witnessed the signing of an agreement between Thai Airways International and Airbus concerning the development of an aircraft maintenance depot at U-Tapao airport in Rayong.
In 2018, the value of France's imports from Thailand stood at €2.81 billion (97.4 billion baht) while Thailand's imports from France were worth €1.86 billion, according to the French embassy.
The ambassador declined to comment on Thai politics but said France is determined to strengthen ties between the two countries.
"Thailand is important in Southeast Asia. We will work with the prime minister and the government of Thailand, that's our intention," he said.
He also refused to comment on the fact that some political asylum seekers from Thailand have been taking refuge in France, saying the cases are considered according to the Geneva Convention and international frameworks for such matters.
This year, France and Thailand will celebrate the 333rd anniversary of the Siamese ambassadors' trip to France in 1686.
To demonstrate his country's desire to collaborate with Asean more closely, Mr Lapouge said plans were afoot for designers from France, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam to put on a colourful showcase at Bangkok Design Week 2020 next year.