Ever since Independence in 1947, India has enjoyed bilateral diplomatic relations with Thailand, which have significantly grown over the last few years, with regular high-level interactions and exchanges. In 2017, India-Thailand celebrated 70 years of bilateral ties. India’s ‘Act East’ Policy strongly compliments Thailand’s ‘Act West’ Policy and are significantly contributing to growing India-Thailand bilateral ties.
Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee Director General Confederation of Indian Industry
In 2021, Thailand became India’s fourth largest trading partner in ASEAN. Both countries cooperate closely in ASEAN and are party to the India-ASEAN agreement on Trade in Goods and the India-ASEAN free trade agreement, in Service and Investments.
India-Thailand are also partners in several regional projects, including the East Asia Summit, the India-ASEAN summit and are members of the BIMSTEC and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), among others.
Thailand has also emerged as a strong partner for India in security cooperation and the two are important players in the Indo-Pacific.
As the world recovers from the adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the time is right for India and Thailand to step up bilateral engagement, as there exists great untapped potential between the two.
Trade between India and Thailand reached US$11.88 billion in 2019, which reduced to US$ 9.92 billion in 2020, owing to the major disruptions caused by the pandemic. In 2021-22, Thailand was India’s 22nd top trade partner, with a total trade of US$ 6.6 billion.
For boosting trade, it is critical to address tariff lines and potential trade barriers. Several sectors, including automotive, feature in the excluded list under the ASEAN-India FTA and are subjected to high import duties. Thus, reducing import tariffs through bilateral engagements is critical for expanding trade and investment between the two.
There is also much scope for improving connectivity between the two sides. The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway will expand land connectivity through Northeast India and Southeast Asia. Focus must be on infrastructure, the development of deep seaports and special economic zones, and faster completion of trade related connectivity projects.
With Thailand gradually opening up post the pandemic, there are prospects for boosting business and trade activity, by stepping up engagement in tourism. For encouraging greater tourist inflows from Thailand, India must lay greater focus on infrastructure and improving flight and road connectivity.
India’s spectacular expansion of start-ups, with many achieving unicorn status and Thailand’s conducive business environment, presents huge potential for creating high value, large new businesses. Greater collaboration between the private sector, Government and start-ups must be facilitated.
H.E. Ms. Suchitra Durai
Ambassador of India to Thailand
H.E. Ms. Pattarat Hongtong
Ambassador of Thailand to India