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India's statement delivered by Ambassador & PR at the meeting held for Thailand's 8th Trade Policy Review

India’s statement delivered by Ambassador & PR on Thailand’s 8th Trade Policy Review

24 & 26 November 2020

Thank you Chair, my delegation is pleased to participate in the 8th Trade Policy Review of Thailand. On behalf of India, I will like to welcome the delegation of Thailand led by Mr. Rachavitch Piyapramote, Minister, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the WTO and WIPO, Bangkok Office; H.E. Sunanta Kangvalkulkij, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of Thailand to the WTO and WIPO and her team in Geneva for the TPR. We thank Mr. Rachavitch Piyapramote for his comprehensive opening statement, Ambassador H.E. Ms Silvia Elena Alfaro Espinosa of Peru, for her insightful observations as a Discussant, and the Secretariat and the Government of Thailand for the reports prepared for the review.

2.   We are pleased to note from the Secretariat’s Report that during the period under review, Thailand has maintained macro-financial stability, supported by prudent fiscal and monetary policies. The stable and continuous growth witnessed between 2015 and 2018 has enabled Thailand to join the upper-middle-income group of countries. We wish to complement the Thai Government and its people on their economic success and also for a successful management of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also acknowledge the recent slowdown in the economic growth witnessed from 2019 due to reasons beyond Thailand’s control.

3.  India and Thailand share centuries old ties of friendship and cultural linkages. The relationship is rooted in history, civilisation and extensive people to people linkages. Today, India’s relations with Thailand are multi-dimensional. India’s ‘Look East’ policy and Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy, which have now metamorphosed into India’s ‘Act East’ and Thailand’s ‘Act West’ policies are strongly contributing to consolidation of bilateral relations, including economic & commercial linkages. India’s partnership with Thailand also has a strong regional dimension in the context of India’s engagement with ASEAN and membership of groupings such as BIMSTEC, Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). There have been regular high-level exchanges between the two countries in the recent years. The closer relationship between the two countries was further demonstrated in participation of the Prime Minister of Thailand along with all ASEAN Heads of States as Chief Guests at the Republic Day celebration of India in January, 2018. The closer political relationship has contributed to a new dynamism in economic and commercial ties.

4.   Trade and investment constitute a key pillar of India’s expanding relations with Thailand, including in the framework of India-ASEAN FTA in goods and services. In the ASEAN region, Thailand ranks as India’s 5th largest trading partner. During the period under review, bilateral trade between two countries has increased by more than 60%. Bilateral trade between India and Thailand was US $ 12.14 billion in 2019 with exports from India to Thailand at US $ 4.80 billion and import from Thailand to India at US $ 7.34 billion. Before the slowdown kicked in, bilateral trade increased by 20% in year 2018. Both the countries are working on ways to enhance connectivity including in the areas of physical and digital connectivity.

5.  The fast-growing Indian market remains attractive for Thai investors and exporters. An Early Harvest Scheme (EHS), covering 83 products, under the India-Thailand Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), in place since September 2004, has significantly contributed to the growth in our bilateral trade. The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITGA), which came into effect from 01 January, 2010 has resulted in further expanding of our bilateral trade and its proposed review will make it even more user-friendly, simple and trade facilitative for businesses.

6.  Beyond trade, our investment ties have grown rapidly with two-way investments in sector such as IT, pharmaceuticals, chemical, food processing, infrastructure, automotive, engineering goods, and hospitality. Quite a large number of our businesses are thriving in each other’s market. The expanding connectivity between both the countries, through land, air and sea have helped both our commercial as well as the people-to-people linkages.

7.  We are committed to strengthening trade and investment partnership with Thailand. Both countries have established institutional mechanisms and agreements for promoting trade and investment between them and we remain actively engaged to address the bilateral market access issues including the export of Indian bovine meat, marine products including shrimps, pharmaceuticals, poultry products, electrical equipment, agricultural products such as blueberry, strawberry, kiwi fruit, potato, lemon, okra, brown rice, black tea etc. We are confident that through these engagements, both countries can resolve their respective trade concerns and achieve mutually beneficial trade exchanges in the future. I would like to thank the Thai delegation for providing answers to the questions raised by us for the TPR, which will be reviewed by our Capital.

8.  Chair, before I conclude I wish to applaud the commitment of Thailand to the multilateral trading system and highlight the vast potential for further strengthening the trade and investment ties between our two countries, given the natural and historical affinities we share. We look forward to closely working with the Thai authorities and their delegation in Geneva to strengthen our bilateral economic cooperation, as well as to strengthen the multilateral trading system. I wish our Thai friends a productive and successful TPR.