With the second-largest economy in ASEAN, Thailand is one of the most dynamic countries in Southeast Asia. But over the past decade, despite reaching upper middle-income status, Thailand has faced slowing economic growth, declining foreign investment, and political instability. Thailand has been effective in addressing Covid-19, but the economic impact has been significant as Thailand is predicted to have the largest economic contraction in Southeast Asia. Now is a critical time for reforms in education, economic competitiveness, inequality, and the environment, and the Foundation is supporting efforts by the Royal Thai Government to move forward on several major reform initiatives, government programs, and new investments. Thailand also plays a crucial role in regional cooperation and geopolitics, particularly within ASEAN and the lower Mekong subregion. The Foundation supports several Thai-led efforts in the region on sustainable development, Mekong cooperation, and is helping to strengthen U.S.-Thai relations.
Mekong-Australia Policy Dialogues
The Asia Foundation and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have jointly organized a series of Mekong-Australia Policy Dialogues (MAPD), designed to facilitate the creation and exchange of policy ideas toward a fuller and more sustainable realization of the Mekong River and its subregion’s economic potential. With a focus on the five lower riparian states, which collectively make up the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), the dialogues aim to provide policy options that foster a collaborative and mutually beneficial approach between and among countries. They allow for constructive discussion of a broad set of perspectives and priorities—including from ACMECS development partners like Australia—consistent with the traditional “Mekong Spirit.”
NEWS FROM THAILAND
With support from Google, Facebook, Coca-Cola, and the Chevron Corporation, the Foundation organized a track 1.5 dialogue between Thai and U.S. leaders in Washington, DC. Led by former Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador Stapleton Roy, each delegation included more than a dozen prominent leaders from the political, business, diplomatic, and security sectors. Following the meeting, we published an analysis and key outcomes from the dialogue.
While the official U.S.-Thai relationship has improved over the past year, we believe dialogues like this will be crucial to deepening cooperation and mutual understanding in the years ahead.
HIGHLIGHTS ACROSS ASIA
Impact Report 2020
Leading through change