India, Thailand target $10 billion trade by 2012

April 5th, 2011 - 6:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Abhisit Vejjajiva New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) India and Thailand target to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2012 from $6.7 billion in 2010 as the two countries broaden their trade basket and liberalise norms, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said here Tuesday.

“Thailand is the 20th largest trading partner of India. By the end of next year, I hope our trade will cross $10 billion mark,” Vejjajiva said at a business meeting organised jointly by the top industry chambers.

Vejjajiva, who is on his maiden state visit to India, said the two countries were negotiating a free trade agreement that would substantially reduce trade barriers and boost two-way trade and investment.

“Encouraging two-way investment and trade is high on our agenda,” he said, adding that he would work closely with Indian authorities to further liberalise trade and investment norms.

“There has been a considerable expansion in our economic and political ties during the last decade. India and Thailand have been working closely on the international forums and share common concerns,” the Thai prime minister said.

On tourism, Vejjajiva said Thailand continued to remain one of the most preferred destinations for leisure tourists from India.

“Last year, almost 800,000 Indian tourists visited Thailand. In a few years from now, I hope it will cross 1 million mark,” he added.

Addressing the meeting, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India-Thailand bilateral trade had jumped almost six times since the two countries signed a framework agreement in 2003.

India and Thailand signed a framework agreement on free trade in October 2003. The two countries are now discussing a comprehensive free trade agreement on goods, services and investment.

“Economic engagement between the two countries paved the way for rapid economic liberalisation and the implementation of the Early Harvest Scheme led to robust growth,” said Sharma.

While reiterating India’s commitment to deepening integration with South-East Asia, Sharma said Asian economies, especially India and China, would play increasingly important role in global economic affairs.

Sharma urged Thai entrepreneurs to increase their investments in India.

India has invested almost $2 billion in Thailand, while total Thai investment in India so far is less than $1 billion.

“Enhancing the share of manufacturing in the gross domestic product (GDP) is a priority for India and Thailand can play a major role in enhancing the share of manufacturing as they have a proven expertise in the area and has a significant share in their GDP,” Sharma said.

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