India, Thailand agree to double trade by 2014 (Lead)

April 5th, 2011 - 10:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) India and Thailand Tuesday agreed to double by 2014 their bilateral trade, which stood at $6 billion at present, and also to expedite their negotiations on a free trade agreement on goods, services and investments.

The agreements came about at the meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva here Tuesday evening.

“Our bilateral trade turnover has reached about $6 billion. We have agreed to aim towards doubling of our trade by 2014,” Manmohan Singh said in a statement after his delegation level talks with Vejjajiva.

“We have agreed to expedite the conclusion of negotiations on bilateral free trade agreement that will include goods, services and investments,” the Indian prime minister said, adding that the ministerial level joint commission would meet this year to follow up on the range of bilateral initiatives.

Welcoming Thai investments in India, he said: “We see Thailand as playing a positive role in our efforts to catalyse development and improve connectivity of our north-eastern states with the Asean region.”

Manmohan Singh said Thailand is “a close friend and a valued regional partner” for India and that the two countries shared civilisational links, apart from being maritime neighbours.

The two countries, he said, had also agreed during the meeting to intensify cooperation in education, tourism and culture, apart from identifying space technology, disaster management and science technology as other areas of cooperation.

Noting that the two nations enjoyed “active exchanges” in defence, counter-terrorism and security, the Indian prime minister said the they have agreed to further strengthen cooperation and to initiate senior-level dialogue between the two defence ministries.

Both the leaders expressed their desire to cooperate “to secure” the vital sea lanes of communication, which pass through the Indian Ocean region.

“Developing close relations with Thailand is an important component of our Look East policy. We work together in a number of regional mechanisms such as Bimstec, the Asean Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Mekong Ganga Cooperation Initiative,” Manmohan Singh said.

The two prime ministers “are of the unanimous view that a strong India-Thailand partnership is a factor of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Vejjajiva, in his remarks, congratulated India on its cricket World Cup victory and said he was happy to be back in India at a time of great joy.

He said India’s Look East policy complimented Thailand’s Look West policy, adding that his country was looking to participate in a number of projects in India, especially in infrastructure.

Vejjajiva arrived here in the morning on a day-long visit. He was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, after which he met External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. He also called on President Pratibha Patil and Vice President Hamid Ansari.

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