Boosting India and Thailand’s Bilateral Ties
published : 5 Dec 2021 at 08:00
Ever since Independence in 1947, India has enjoyed bilateral diplomatic relations with Thailand, which have significantly grown over the last few years, with regular high-level interactions and exchanges. In 2017, India-Thailand celebrated 70 years of bilateral ties. India’s ‘Act East’ Policy strongly compliments Thailand’s ‘Act West’ Policy and are significantly contributing to growing India-Thailand bilateral ties.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee Director General Confederation of Indian Industry
In 2021, Thailand became India’s fourth largest trading partner in ASEAN. Both countries cooperate closely in ASEAN and are party to the India-ASEAN agreement on Trade in Goods and the India-ASEAN free trade agreement, in Service and Investments.
India-Thailand are also partners in several regional projects, including the East Asia Summit, the India-ASEAN summit and are members of the BIMSTEC and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), among others.
Thailand has also emerged as a strong partner for India in security cooperation and the two are important players in the Indo-Pacific.
As the world recovers from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the time is right for India and Thailand to step up bilateral engagement, as there exists great untapped potential between the two.
Trade between India and Thailand reached US$11.88 billion in 2019, which reduced to US$ 9.92 billion in 2020, owing to the major disruptions caused by the pandemic. In 2021-22, Thailand was India’s 22nd top trade partner, with a total trade of US$ 6.6 billion.
For boosting trade, it is critical to address tariff lines and potential trade barriers. Several sectors, including automotive, feature in the excluded list under the ASEAN-India FTA and are subjected to high import duties. Thus, reducing import tariffs through bilateral engagements is critical for expanding trade and investment between the two.
There is also much scope for improving connectivity between the two sides. The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway will expand land connectivity through Northeast India and Southeast Asia. Focus must be on infrastructure, the development of deep seaports and special economic zones, and faster completion of trade related connectivity projects.
With Thailand gradually opening up post the pandemic, there are prospects for boosting business and trade activity, by stepping up engagement in tourism. For encouraging greater tourist inflows from Thailand, India must lay greater focus on infrastructure and improving flight and road connectivity.
India’s spectacular expansion of start-ups, with many achieving unicorn status and Thailand’s conducive business environment, presents huge potential for creating high value, large new businesses. Greater collaboration between the private sector, Government and start-ups must be facilitated.
Given the many complementarities, there is ample scope for both sides to increase cooperation and give a further heft to the already existing partnership. CII has been very active in bolstering India-Thailand engagement and have organised and facilitated several summits, conferences, business meets and roundtables to step up collaboration.
As India-Thailand gear up to mark the 75th anniversary of the economic partnership in 2022, investing efforts in intensifying the bilateral relationship would result in increased mutual benefits and enhanced economic prosperity.
H.E. Ms. Suchitra Durai
Ambassador of India to Thailand
I extend my warm felicitations to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Thailand on the occasion of their National Day.
India-Thailand enjoys close relations, and regular high-level exchanges, growing trade and investment, and extensive people-to-people contacts, all of which have enabled India-Thailand ties to evolve into a comprehensive partnership.
Bilateral trade during the current year is poised to surpass US$12 billion despite the pandemic. ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA) and Early Harvest Scheme between India and Thailand have played an important role in the growth of bilateral trade and investment.
Thai businesses can take advantage of the incentives offered under ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiatives to strengthen bilateral ties with India.
With the operationalisation of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway and direct port-to-port connectivity, our trade and economic cooperation will see further momentum in the coming years.
H.E. Ms. Pattarat Hongtong
Ambassador of Thailand to India
With its fast-growing economy, largest youth population in the world, attractive infrastructure market, and rising global competitiveness and economic impact, the Indian market has limitless prospects to offer Thailand. Indeed, there are opportunities both-ways, in Thais helping fill the supply chain gaps in the Atmanirbhar Bharat by investing in India, ‘Make in India by Thailand for Indians and the World’, and in Indian enterprises expanding into Thailand which is the Gateway of ASEAN. And as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 2022, the Embassy will continue to work closely with the Confederation of Indian Industries, our longstanding partner, in transforming our close connections into a modern partnership of prosperity based on trade and investment prospects for the benefit of our businesses and communities.