India and Thailand have outlined a road map for cooperation in areas spanning defense and maritime security in efforts to increase trade and economic interaction between the two countries. Both sides have agreed to speedily conclude the India-Thailand Free Trade Agreement and bilateral investment treaty, and also implementing an infrastructure project linking Thailand and India on a fast track (like the Asian Trilateral Highway which links Thailand to Myanmar).
Thailand’s physical proximity to India has allowed Prime Ministers Prayut and Narendra to forge a close partnership as they share similar regional goals and interests. Prime Minister Narenda’s “Act East’ policy creates a greater focus on India’s interaction with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand. Prime Minister Prayut’s visit to India comes amid tensions between China and several Southeast Asian nations over rival maritime boundary claims in the South China Sea.
There are ample avenues for greater manufacturing and investment linkages. We see a particular synergy between Thai strengths in infrastructure, particularly tourism infrastructure, and India’s priorities in this field- Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The India-Thailand Free Trade Agreement will enhance the safety and security of navigation in the Indian Ocean and also extend to an anti-piracy cooperation and coast guard cooperation.
In terms of trade opportunities, both countries agreed to encourage their businesses to invest in the other country. This leaves a lot of room open for bilateral opportunities and potential for cross border trade. The key idea of this partnership was to link India’s underdeveloped north-east to Southeast Asia with the goal of boosting economic growth. This is yet another interesting trade agreement between Southeast Asia and a neighboring country, one which should boost the region’s capacity for development.
A version of this appeared in Live Mint on June 18. Read the full article here.