Austin Mayor Kirk Watson and Chiang Mai Provincial Governor Nirat Phongsittithaworn signed a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the Austin-Chiang Mai Sister Cities initiative at Austin City Hall on November 12, 2023.
The Thai Ambassador to the United States, Tanee Sangrat, U.S. Consul General in Chiang Mai, Lisa Buzenas, a newly-established Sister Cities initiative volunteer Board of Directors in Austin, and a visiting Thai delegation of local officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurs also participated in the signing ceremony. The group, along with Thai and American communities from Austin and Chiang Mai, celebrated the new Sister Cities relationship at a kick-off event at Wat Buddhananachat in Austin.
Thailand holds the distinction of being the United States' longest-standing partner in the Asia-Pacific region. This year marks the 190th anniversary of diplomatic relations, which were established in 1833 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Recognizing the significance of these enduring ties, the Sister Cities initiative has several key objectives:
- Facilitate collaboration between the local governments of Austin and Chiang Mai.
- Promote trade, investment, and economic development for mutual benefit.
- Cultivate new educational and cultural connections.
- Enhance cooperation and training opportunities in law enforcement.
To kickstart this partnership, Chiang Mai Governor Nirat Phongsittithaworn is leading a delegation consisting of 30 local and national officials, members of Thailand's Parliament, leaders from Chiang Mai University, business leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and Royal Thai Police officials. They are visiting Austin from November 11 to November 16, engaging in a series of meetings, exchanges, and business matchmaking events.
In Austin, the delegation will engage with various key stakeholders, including:
- City of Austin Mayor Kirk Watson and Austin City Council members
- Austin Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Homeland Security Investigations officers
- Texas Department of Agriculture
- The University of Texas at Austin
- Venture capitalists from IC2 and Capital Factory
- IBM's X-Force Red team
- Austin Region Intelligence Center
- Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce and prominent U.S. businesses
- SXSW organizers
Additionally, they will participate in the public launch event of the Austin-Chiang Mai Sister Cities initiative, which will take place at the local Thai Buddhist temple, Wat Buddhananachat.
“Austin and Chiang Mai share many similarities. Both cities stand as global hubs for art, culture, music, food, and film", says City of Austin Mayor, Kirk Watson. “We share a commitment to cutting-edge technology, creative industries, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. We envision significant potential for both cities as we collaborate on shared goals.”