The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

52 MARCH 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL FEATURE Marc Gilkey is a Senior Foreign Service officer who has served with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for 30 years. He is currently posted in Bangkok, where he serves as the regional manager for South Asia. He has served previously in Afghanistan, Mexico, India, Belgium, and Colombia, in addition to assignments in Washington, D.C., with USAID. He is a U.S. Navy veteran. He wrote for the FSJ in 2019 on avocado diplomacy in Colombia and in 2022 reflected on agricultural work in Afghanistan. Through the pomelo, the quintessential Thai fruit, the U.S. and Thailand recently celebrated almost two centuries of collaboration. BY MARC GILKEY Pomelo Diplomacy In 2023 the United States and Thailand celebrated 190 years of fruitful ties. Life in the Foreign Service offers numerous challenges, and it is the job of the diplomat to turn the challenge into an opportunity. My challenge was to identify a contribution from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) appropriate to the celebration of this diplomatic benchmark. The foundation of almost two centuries of collaboration and cooperation with Thailand was built through the 1833 Treaty of Amity and Commerce. With this treaty, Thailand became the first country in Asia to establish diplomatic relations with the United States. Over the ensuing years, the two nations worked together on numerous fronts, such as collaboration during World War II (which continues today); safeguarding of the health of U.S., Thai, and international communities through medical research, innovation, and public health initiatives; promotion of sustainable resource management; conservation of biodiversity; and economic collaboration. The United States is Thailand’s largest export market. Trade ranges from consumer goods and agricultural products to cooperation with defense industries, which has spurred collaboration in fields outside the economic realm, including security and space technology. Later, defense pacts established a useful military cooperation, and these promises were upheld throughout the Cold War. When terrorism emerged as a global threat, we supported each other; when global pandemics surfaced, our bonds were tighter than ever in sharing vaccines and keeping safe and resilient trade moving between both nations. What could I add to this story?