Thailand investing Bt2 trillion to close ASEAN-India trade gap


NEW DELHI, Dec 21 – Thailand has set an ambitious investment target of Bt2 trillion to pave the way for the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area, a regional partnership which Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra described as a key element in fostering the country’s competitive edge.

Ms Yingluck, who attended the two-day ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, said a bill on the Bt2 trillion investment will be issued to ensure Thailand’s uninterrupted economic cooperation with Southeast Asian countries and India despite domestic political changes in the future.

Meeting with Thai businessmen after the Summit, the premier asked the private sector to set up an ad hoc committee to follow up on the FTA while the National Economic and Social Development Board will act as facilitator.

She said the combined population of ASEAN and India will contribute to a gigantic market for trade and investment, and closer cooperation.

She added that Thailand and India will need to discuss details of the FTA while the Thai private sector should regularly communicate with the government to be prepared for its implementation.

Ms Yingluck said Thailand’s shortage of skilled workers has become an urgent problem and the Education Ministry has been instructed to revamp the country’s educational system to realistically serve the labour market.

“2013 will be the year of private sector development. The government and private sector will need to talk more,” she said.

The prime minister left New Delhi for Bangladesh today. She is scheduled to return to Bangkok tomorrow.