Thailand and Brunei Darussalam established diplomatic relations on 1st January 1984 and have since enjoyed close and cordial relations, which over the years continued to be strengthened through numerous exchanges between the monarchs as well as governments.
Bilateral relations between both countries are dynamic and enhanced through cooperation in various areas of mutual interest. Thailand-Brunei relations are further strengthened by close cooperation in multilateral regional and international platforms such as ASEAN, United Nations, APEC, NAM and OIC.
Thailand is represented by the Royal Thai Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan and Brunei is represented by the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam in Bangkok. The present Ambassador of Thailand to Brunei is His Excellency Mr. Biravij Suwanpradhes and his counterparts in Bangkok is His Excellency Haji Ismail bin Haji Abdul Manap.
The monarch and royal family from both countries have an amiable relationship with each other. His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam have visited Thailand on numerous occasions.
Most fondly remembered is during the Royal Banquet held to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the late His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Accession to the throne in June 2006, where His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, delivered a speech prior to presenting a toast to honour the late His Majesty King Bhumibol on behalf of the other royal guests.
On 30 June 2012, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam had an audience with the late His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Chakri Maha Prasart Throne Hall, Grand Palace during His Majesty’s official visit to Thailand. In May 2013, His Majesty attended the 2nd Asia Pacific Water Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand. And most recently in October 2016, His Majesty attended the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Summit in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, in October 2013, Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol, the youngest daughter of the late His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, delivered a keynote lecture at Universiti Brunei Darussalam and had an audience with Their Majesties, the Sultan and Raja Isteri at the Istana Nurul Iman.
The Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of Brunei Darussalam have been working closely in exploring strategic cooperation of mutual benefits. Relations between both governments have been strengthened through regular exchange of visits and cooperation at all levels, which have resulted in the signing of several Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs).
A MoU on health cooperation was recently signed in September 2016 between BNH Medical Centre Limited and the Ministry of Health of Brunei. The MoU is aimed at enhancing health cooperation between both countries through the exchange of medical professionals, joint projects in medical research, joint seminars and training programmes, and transfer of patients to undergo treatment at the BNH Medical Centre Limited.
Progress is also currently underway on the MoU on Agriculture Cooperation which was inked March 2015 during Prime Minister General (Rtd) Prayut Chan-o-cha’s official visit to Brunei. The MoU which included cooperation on rice production saw a delegation from Thailand Rice Department visiting Brunei in September 2016 to lend their expertise on enhancing the local rice production in Brunei.
Meanwhile, the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Information and Broadcasting which were signed in 2001 continued to be implemented and a Joint Musical Variety Show "Alai Pa Plern” continued to be alternatively hosted between both countries since 2003. The MoU is aimed at promoting people-to-people contact and greater understanding between the peoples of both countries.
Thailand and Brunei already share a strong people-to-people relation. There are currently 2,400 Thai nationals living and working in Brunei and the Thai community actively participated in the Brunei National Day Parade in February. University student exchanges and government visits are commonly taking place from both sides. Additionally, increasing number of Bruneians is travelling to Thailand whereby 13,800 tourists were recorded in 2015, an increase of 20 per cent from the previous year. Fostering people-to-people contacts at various levels is vital to achieve closer cooperation, stronger connectivity as well as boosting trade and investment activities.
Trade relations between Thailand and Brunei
As a trading partner, Brunei ranked 9th in ASEAN and 46th in the world for Thailand. In terms of export, Brunei is the 9th export market in ASEAN and 89th in the world for Thailand. For import, Brunei ranked 8th in ASEAN and positioned in top 32 in the world for Thailand.
In the last five years (2011 – 2015), the annual total trade value between Thailand and Brunei averaged at US$646.70 million, with average annual exports of US$148.46 million and average annual imports of US$498.24. This represents a growth rate of 31.96.
In 2015, total trade between Thailand and Brunei was worth US$815.77 million, comprising of exports totalling US$105.77 million and imports valued at US$710.00 million. Exports were down 25.79% while imports up 8.58% from the previous years. Total trade decreased by 2.43% from previous year with a trade deficit of US$604.23 to Thailand. 85.29% of total trade between Thailand and Brunei in 2015 comprised of crude oil imports.
Major Thai exports to Brunei Darussalam include auto parts and accessories, rice, cement, sugar, iron and steel products, pet food, air conditioning and components, aluminium products, canned and processed fruits and ceramics
Thailand mainly imports crude oil from Brunei. Other imports include chemical, iron and steel products, other metal ores and scrap metal, frozen and processed seafood, automobile parts and accessories, heavy machinery and components, paper pulps and electrical machinery