|Majestic: The Grand Palace in Bangkok. — Photo courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand
On December 5, Thais all over the world commemorate the birthday of
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch
The King's name, which literally means "Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power", clearly reflects his nature. The King has performed his royal duties to enhance the well-being of the Thai people throughout his 68 year-long reign.
In recognition of His Majesty's tireless efforts, on April 16, 2012, the International Union of Soil Science honoured His Majesty with the first ever Humanitarian Soil Scientist Award.
In 2013, the 68th United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as World Soil Day. It also declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils.
Last year marks a monumental milestone in Thailand-Viet Nam relations with the official visit to Thailand of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, Nguyen Phu Trong, in June.
During the visit, Thailand and Viet Nam agreed to elevate bilateral relations to the level of strategic partnership, the first of its kind for two ASEAN member states.
The agreement encompasses co-operation in politics, defence and security, economics and people-to-people connectivity. It also takes in regional and international co-operation, especially the realisation of the ASEAN community in 2015 and how to address regional challenges.
The strategic partnership consolidates and strengthens the already close relations between the two countries while complementing existing mechanisms, such as Joint Cabinet Retreats (JCR), meetings between key cabinet ministers of both governments – and co-operation mechanisms between ministries, armed forces and security agencies.
The recently concluded visit to Viet Nam of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand gave new impetus to the strategic partnership.
Economic relations between Thailand and Viet Nam are gaining strength. In the first eight months of this year, two-way trade rose to nearly US$7.5 billion, an increase of nearly 10 per cent year-on-year. It is expected to surpass last year's $10.4 billion, well on the way to the target of $15 billion in the year 2020.
In terms of investment, Thailand is among the top 10 countries investing in Viet Nam. It has about $6.47 billion in more than 350 projects – and several mega-projects in the pipeline.
Thai businesses like SCG, CP, Amata, PTT, Berli Jucker, Robins Department Store, Bangkok Bank and Thai Airways International are becoming household brands and continuously expanding their products and services to meet the needs of Vietnamese consumers.
Co-operation in education is also being strengthened. A large number of Vietnamese students choose to further their studies at Thai universities while the Thai Government continues to provide scholarships and training in agriculture, tourism, logistics and health.
It is evident that people-to-people connectivity is the foundation of friendship between Thailand and Viet Nam.
During the fight for independence, President Ho Chi Minh used to call the north-east of Thailand his home and, today, Thai people of Vietnamese descent thrive there socially and economically.
Last year, more than 1 million Vietnamese and Thai tourists visiting each other's country as tourists. Vietnamese cuisine is becoming popular in the Thailand, while Thai movies and TV soap operas are making headway into the Vietnamese market.
Our bilateral relations are based on a firm foundation of respect, understanding and trust. It is the national policy of Thailand to co-operate with Viet Nam to enhance the strategic partnership for the mutual benefit of our two nations, peoples, and the future generation. — VNS