Thailand seeking strategic partnership with India


NEW DELHI, Jan 26 — Thailand is seeking a strategic partnership with India and is ready to develop bilateral cooperation between the two nations at all levels while seeking ways to foster the relationship between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India.

Visiting Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday led Thai delegates to a plenary meeting with Indian counterparts led by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Thai premier said that Thailand has emphasised bilateral relations with India through a ‘Look West and Look East’ policy to strengthen close ties between the two countries.

She praised the significant growth and development of India during the past two decades as India has played an increasingly prominent role in the world arena and more Indian businesspersons were ranked in the annual Fortune 500 list of top global companies.

Thailand and India will mark the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year, which is a good opportunity for the two countries to develop bilateral ties as strategic partners for mutual benefit at the regional and international level, she said.

Thailand has proposed speeding up negotiations to wrap up the Thai Indian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by March in order to implement a Thai Indian FTA by mid-2012, aiming to double the two countries trade volume by 2014.

India and Thailand also agreed to set up a CEO Forum to support cooperation between the public and private sectors of both two countries.

Thailand’s premier proposed working groups to expand the existing cooperation covering science and technology, information technology and services, education, culture and environment, while seeking new fields of cooperation such as disaster management, energy, oil and gas exploration, water resource management.

Ms Yingluck also proposed linkages between Thailand, India and ASEAN through the existing framework including ASEAN-India Summit, Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Mekong-Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

Both countries agreed to set up a working group on security to exchange information to tackle terrorism, transnational crime, illegal labour force, illicit drugs and the working group concluding in a Treaty on Extradition and a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Civil and Commercial Matters.

Thailand has proposed opening its first Board of Investment (BoI) office in Mumbai in late 2012 and setting up an India-Thailand Investment Forum to promote investment which India is now considering.

After meeting, Thailand and India signed six agreements covering military cooperation, prisoner exchanges, and science and technology cooperation.

Ms Yingluck earlier made a courtesy call on Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil to offer congratulations on the Republic Day of India and to thank India for its assistance to Thailand during last year’s flood crisis.

Ms Patil praised Ms Yingluck as new generation of leader while Ms Yingluck lauded the Indian leader’s role in promoting the role of women and human rights.