Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara kicked off a forum for senior diplomats on Monday, focusing on how to steer foreign policy to safeguard and advance the nation's interests in an increasingly polarised world.
The annual gathering in Bangkok, which concludes Friday, is attended by 97 Thai ambassadors, consuls-general, charges d'affaires, heads of Thai permanent missions and trade representatives.
In his opening address, Mr Parnpree said the forum aims to inform senior diplomats of the government's foreign policy and brainstorm ideas with executives about work plans for 2024 and 2025.
He said the forum would also discuss key issues, including proactive economic diplomacy, trade, soft power development, the land bridge megaproject, the green industry, and carbon neutrality policy with agencies concerned from both the public and private sectors.
The input would allow the diplomats to gain insights and use them to drive foreign policy initiatives and produce tangible outcomes, he added.
"I hope the forum will help Thailand decide how to position itself in such a polarised world so to best safeguard our national interests," Mr Parnpree said.
He said Thailand cannot afford to carry out only routine tasks; it must adopt a proactive approach to achieve tangible and concrete results.
The foreign minister expressed confidence that proactive economic diplomacy would be the government's tool to drive economic growth and promote the people's well-being.
"Thai people are more aware of foreign affairs, so ambassadors and consuls-general must work fast and be more flexible. I've confidence in their knowledge, capabilities and professionalism in driving proactive diplomacy," he said.
The forum is being held under the theme of proactive diplomacy in the polarised world, covering several issues throughout the week.
Permanent secretary of foreign affairs Sarun Charoensuwan said the forum, the first of its kind since 2016, reflected the government's work to safeguard and advance the national interest amid increased division and competition. Mr Sarun said the forum will also highlight the diverse issues that must be addressed through effective foreign policy.
The issues to be covered on Tuesday include the rescue of Thais in Laukkaing in northern Myanmar, the creative economy and soft power promotion in southern China, the evacuation of Thai workers in the Israel-Hamas conflict and the Thai-US relationship.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is scheduled to explain policy, with the day concluding with a brainstorming session on challenges and opportunities for Thailand in the international arena.
Topics for Wednesday include the revival of the Saudi Arabia market, the emerging market in Africa, connectivity and collaboration in the Mekong subregion and the Thai entertainment industry in Mexico and Peru. The senior diplomats are scheduled to discuss border trade with governors of border provinces.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Commerce Ministry and the Board of Investment will outline their proactive economic diplomacy objectives to Mr Srettha.
Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai said on Monday overseas commercial counsellors will attend the forum with a Thursday workshop by representatives from the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries, the Thai Bankers' Association, and the Thai National Shippers Council.
Mr Phumtham also instructed the permanent secretary and directors-general to implement the prime minister's policies. He said that overseas commercial counsellors and provincial commercial officials will meet on Dec 1 to prepare details for submission to the premier on how to carry out the policies. He said the ministry has been in talks with Chinese trade officials in various provinces to discuss trade cooperation.