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Saturday, Aug 10, 2002

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Thailand keen on bilateral trade zone with India

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THAILAND is closely pursuing the idea of setting up a bilateral trade zone with India, mooted recently by the Thai Government, Mr Choosak Ramabutr, Consul General of Thailand, told members of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce here on Friday.

The proposed trade zone, to be monitored by a joint working group, will enable better cooperation between the two countries. In particular, it will establish closer business ties, which currently lead to a trade volume of around a $1 billion. The idea is to double this in a year or two.

The two Governments have also identified adequate potential in a three-way tie-up between India, Thailand and Myanmar. There is a need to establish road linkages connecting the three nations, another idea that is being pursued at the highest levels.

As for Thailand's own economy, there have been distinct signs of expansion in recent years, it is pointed out. Private investment is on the rise, the Consul General said, adding that this has partly helped the country's economy grow at 2-3 per cent in recent times. Export turnover has recorded a reasonable increase as well.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which account for over 90 per cent of Thailand's GDP, have been the clear focus of the new investments. These have come from a range of investors, and the Thai Government has worked out an attractive package of tax incentives for them.

"Thailand wishes to connect with the rest of the world in a major way, and better Indo-Thai relations form a key part of our plans," Mr Ramabutr said. Incidentally, some of the areas that have been identified for closer co-operation are: tourism, auto ancillaries, gems and jewellery and infrastructure. It may be mentioned here that the major items of India's exports to Thailand include jewellery, chemicals, lube oil, shrimps, medicines, textile yarns and metal waste.

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