Thailand and India are close to concluding a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) covering trade in goods by 2010 and the South-East Asian country across the Bay of Bengal will shortly launch roadshows in India to hasten the process.
Fresh negotiations towards the agreement are expected to begin next month.
Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said that negotiations on the FTA in goods would commence in July and an agreement is likely to be signed by September.
"The two sides have also agreed to start parallel negotiations on the services and investment parts of the FTA," Nath said.
“We very much look forward to concluding regional FTAs in the frameworks of ASEAN and BIMSTEC which will benefit the regional economy as a whole, and to concluding mutually beneficial agreements such as the bilateral FTA with India which will further energize our trade and investment,” the Prime Minister of Thailand, General Surayud Chulanont, said here on Tuesday at a meeting organised by industry chambers CII, Assocham and FICCI.
The Thai Prime Minister pointed out that the FTA covering trade in goods would lead to long term mutual benefits in investment and the partnership would be expanded further to cover technological know-how and expertise.
The two governments signed a framework agreement to establish a free trade area (FTA) at Bangkok in October 2003. The agreement also provides for an early harvest scheme (EHS) under which common items of export interest to the two sides have been negotiated for elimination of tariffs on a fast track.
The early harvest programme spans 82 items including auto parts, electronic goods and fruits for which tariffs were cut since September 2004.
India has sought tariff concessions on items such as marine products, chemicals (including drugs and pharmaceuticals) and iron and steel.
Chulanont said an India-Thailand FTA roadshow will be staged in major Indian cities during the visit of the Thai Deputy Foreign Minister and a group of prominent Thai investors from June 28 to July 4.
The roadshows would discuss new business opportunities upon the coming into effect of the India-Thailand FTA.
“Thailand regards India as one of its most important strategic partners. Our cooperation has developed in both bilateral and multilateral areas in all sectors including trade, investment, security transport, science and technology, energy, technical cooperation and culture,” Chulanont said.