India and Thailand
Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, paid a state visit to India from January 24-26, 2012 as the Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations. She is the first woman head of government to be invited as guest of honour at India’s Republic Day parade in the last five decades. Queen Elizabeth II came to India in 1961 as the chief guest. Both sides agreed to further create a supportive atmosphere for the bilateral and regional comprehensive economic cooperation, the two leaders also agreed
that ASEAN and India should conclude their regional Trade in Services and Investment Agreements by 2012. Both Prime Ministers supported the formation of the ASEAN Community by 2015 as an important step towards greater integration and prosperity in Southeast Asia. The Thai Prime Minister supported India’s engagement with ASEAN, and viewed that India’s role will be important for ASEAN’s continued dynamism, security, and prosperity beyond 2015. Both leaders noted that the increasing menace of terrorists, criminals, arms and drug traffickers trying to use this region for their nefarious activities provided an added urgency to strengthen cooperation in security and intelligence exchange. The two sides also agreed to explore possibilities of collaboration between their oil and gas companies in Exploration and Production (E&P) opportunities in Thailand and India, as well as in third countries.
The Thailand-India Free Trade Agreement Framework was signed on October 9, 2003, covering trade in goods, services and investment, following which bilateral trade has tripled. The two countries agreed to start tariff reduction for trade in goods in January 2010. The bilateral trade between Thailand and India expanded from $4.7 billion in 2007 to $6.8 billion in 2010. Both countries have agreed to increase it to $14 billion between 2010 and 2014. In fact, the two countries want to upgrade it to a full-fledged Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) covering not only goods but also services and investment by middle of this year. Both sides have agreed that the work of the JWG could also aid regional connectivity efforts such as the India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway.
India wants to get involved with the Dawei project. It seems to be a part of its gambit to counter growing Chinese influence in littoral countries in the neighbourhood of India. China is investing heavily in setting up strategically important deep sea ports in Sittwe in Myanmar, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan.