'Immense' trade potential with India: Thai PM | delhi | Hindustan Times
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'Immense' trade potential with India: Thai PM

delhi Updated: Apr 05, 2011 17:33 IST
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Thailand's premier on Tuesday said the southeast Asian kingdom and India should build on commercial ties that have seen bilateral trade increase six-fold over the last 10 years.

"The trade possibilities are immense," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, on a one-day trip to New Delhi, told a business audience, urging the two countries to use their shared cultural and democratic heritage to meet that potential.

He forecast bilateral trade would reach $10 billion by 2012. Two-way trade stood at $6.7 billion last year.

Even quicker trade growth is expected when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) moves to a single market, set for 2015, Vejjajiva said.

Vejjajiva said Indian investors should see Thailand as a gateway to the 10-nation ASEAN market.

He added prospects for Thailand's economy were good, forecasting "broadbased growth" of four to 4.5 percent this year. India's rapidly expanding economy is expected to grow by double that rate in 2011/12.

Vejjajiva, on his first visit to India since becoming prime minister in 2008, said Bankgok wanted to "energise various bilateral mechanisms" including a limited free trade pact in 2003.

The two countries have since been negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement in goods, services and investment that Indian government officials say is nearly ready to be signed.

"Two-way investment is high on our agenda," added Vejjajiva.

Trade with India is still a fraction of Thailand's trade with China. But Thailand believes India could eventually provide a counterweight to China's growing economic might.

"There's still lot of untapped potential both in trade and economy and that is what both sides seek to harness," Indian foreign affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.