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Scaling New Heights Of Indo-Thailand Ties, Thai Envoys Push

From the traditional Thai legal calendar, the solar calendar, counting years in Buddhist Era (B.E.), which is 543 years ahead of the Christian/Normal calendar (A.D.), to the Thai Kings being given the title of Rama (Rama I, Rama II… etc.), to the Bangkok International airport being named Suvarnabhumi International airport to the an important road in Bangkok, where the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located, being called Sri Ayutthaya (Ayodhya) Road, to the mythical bird Garuda being the symbol of Thai royalty for centuries, and later being adopted as the national emblem of the nation, Thailand is steeped in Buddhist and Hindu culture of India. No wonder the two countries have centuries old cultural, economic and political ties, which were dented somewhat (though not culturally) during the Cold War Era, when both countries found themselves on opposite sides of the great political divide. With the Cold War abating following the collapse of the Soviet Union and economies getting globalised, political-security and economic relations have improved significantly. The two sides have been cooperating closely on political and security issues, and trade has been robust, touching 10 Bn US $ annually, after a 30 % increase registered last year. Investments in one another’s countries has been tardy with Indian companies investing 500m US $ in Thailand and investments from Thailand in India reaching 250m US $.

Thai Ambassador to India Chutinto Sam Gongsakdi is not satisfied with the volume of trade and investment between the second largest economy in the 10-member Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the sixth largest economy of the world. The heavy tilt of balance of bilateral trade in favour of Thailand (which accounts for 7Bn US $ out of the total trade of 10 Bn US $) is also exercising his mind.

Scaling New Heights Of Indo-Thailand Ties, Thai Envoys Push, Lifeinchd

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

“The growth in trade and investment is encouraging, but nowhere near the huge potential, considering the cultural affinity and the age old ties between Thailand and India,” Gongsakdi said while sharing his thoughts during an interaction with after formally inaugurating a five-day ‘Namaste Thailand Expo 2018’ at Himachal Bhawan, in Chandigarh, on Wednesday. “We need to rediscover and revive the age old ties and scale up political-security, economic and cultural relations to an all new level. We are making all out efforts to make this happen in the shortest possible timeframe,” he added.

Gongsakdi said Thailand laid great stress on promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which generate 99 % of employment in the country, and would like this sector from both countries to forge greater business ties for inclusive growth. Early completion of the much delayed India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) trilateral road project would make a major impact towards this end as it will facilitate greater connectivity between Asean countries and India.

Scaling New Heights Of Indo-Thailand Ties, Thai Envoys Push, Lifeinchd

Admitting that balance of trade between the two countries was currently tilted heavily in favour of his country, the Thai Ambassador felt that Thailand needed to open up more towards India, and he was making earnest efforts to make that happen. Import of military hardware from India was one of the areas being considered to bridge this gap, he added.

Coming to the presence of Thai companies in India, Gongsakdi informed that though some of the top Thai companies have been operating in India for long, they have been keeping a low profile. Recently, the CP Group of Thailand, an agribusiness and packaged food major operating in South India, announced a venture into cash and carry wholesale stores across India with an investment of Rs. 1,000 crores in the next five years.

Scaling New Heights Of Indo-Thailand Ties, Thai Envoys Push, Lifeinchd

The diversified Siam Cement Group (SCG) is also eyeing its entry into India in a big way looking at opportunities in petro chemicals and the rapidly growing packaging industry in India. Thai companies as also participating in international consortiums to execute work on the Kolkata airport, the Mumbai Metro and Delhi Metro, he said, adding that “However, if we compare the 28 Thai companies operating in India to the 1350 Japanese and 700 Korean companies doing business in the country, the involvement of Thai businesses in India is way below the potential.”

The Thai Ambassador said among the major Indian companies invested in Thailand are Indo Rama Group, Aditya Birla Group and Tata Consultancy Services, with TCS alone providing employment to 2,000 people in Thailand.

Focusing on the burgeoning tourist traffic from India into Thailand, he informed that 14 lakh India tourists are visiting Thailand each year confining their journeys largely to Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. “But Indians need to realise that there is much more to Thailand than these three cities. It’s the second largest economy in Asean and there are opportunities galore across the length and breadth of the country,” he remarked.

Gongsakdi said air connectivity between India and Asean region has recently received a further boost with the Royal Bhutanese Airlines, Drukair announcing launch of its Guwahati-Singapore-Guwahati flights and another Guwahati-Bangkok-Guwahati flight in the pipeline. Other cities in India are also likely to be covered by more direct flights to the Asean region soon, he added.

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