2016 was indeed an unusual year for Thailand. The people of this wonderful country lost its beloved King Bhumibol after 70 years on the throne. Condolences came in from all over the world, including from King Harald of Norway. The Thai people consider 13 October 2016 as an extraordinary sad day in their lives.
The mourning has been very graceful and continues to be so. Millions of people have attended different kinds of ceremonies and signed protocols of condolences. It has been announced that the cremation of the late King will take place in about a year from now.
Meanwhile I am happy to note that the bilateral relations between Thailand and Norway remain strong. Trade between the two countries continues to be at a very high level. In 2016 the value of Norwegian fish export to Thailand doubled, from about ½ billion Norwegian kroner to 1 billion. Norwegian salmon has become a very popular dish at Thai dinner tables.
Norway’s Pension Fund (the former Petroleum Fund) continues to invest in Thailand. Some major Norwegian companies, including Telenor, Yara and Jotun, are important stakeholders in Thailand’s development and economy. Again the number of Norwegian tourists and business people that visited Thailand last year reached close to 150.000. At the same time, Thai tourism to Norway is growing and the embassy issued 10% more visas in 2016 compared to the year before.
About 15.000 Thai citizens are living in Norway (more than 100 of them in Svalbard!) and they are very well integrated in the Norwegian society.
The year ahead will be very exciting. Preparations for elections in Thailand are taking place. The drafting of a new constitution is in its final stage, and this document will be important for the country’s political development in the years to come. In 2016 Thailand had a considerable stronger economic growth than the year before, and the prognoses for 2017 are quite optimistic.
Also in Norway we have elections this year. Many of the political parties have already started their campaigns. Will the current Government continue or shall there be a change after the elections next autumn? Exciting times indeed.
On our website you can find more information about Norway and our relations with Thailand and Cambodia. You can also find us on Facebook, or e-mail us on email@example.com.
Innovation Norway continues to work with the Norwegian seafood industry as well as inbound tourism to Norway and a number of Norwegian start-ups in Thailand. You can contact them by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I wish you all a happy, prosperous and peaceful new year!
The Norwegian ambassador to Thailand and Cambodia