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India-Thailand to Speed up FTA Talks
Jul 01, 2016

India and Thailand are set to firm up cooperation to combat terrorism, and boost maritime security, defence ties and trade during Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s maiden visit to India recently.

  • India and Thailand outlined a road map for cooperation in areas spanning defence and maritime security to increased trade and economic interaction in a bid to impart new momentum to their ties.
  • The two countries agreed to speedily conclude the India-Thailand Free Trade Agreement and bilateral investment treaty besides putting infrastructure projects linking the two countries like the Asian Trilateral Highway—connecting India to Thailand through Myanmar—on the fast track.
  • Given the physical proximity of Thailand to India, India and Thailanad agreed to forge a closer partnership in the fields of defence and maritime cooperation.
  • India has been trying to add more content to its Look East policy, outlined in the early 1990s to increase linkages with the economically vibrant Association of South-East Asian Nations or Asean.
  • The idea was to link India’s underdeveloped and insurgency-riven north-east to South-East Asia with the aim of hastening its economic growth.
  • Now the  Look East policy has been renamed Act East policy—suggesting a greater focus and emphasis on India’s interaction with the group that includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • The tensions over the South China Sea have seen the Philippines move the United Nations arbitration tribunal on the issue. The case before the Hague tribunal centres on the applicability of China’s “nine-dash line” South China Sea boundary under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS.
  • Thailand and India both  agreed that future security cooperation between the two countries would be shaped by the sharing of expertise and experiences, greater staff exchanges and more exercises, cooperation on counter-piracy on seas, deeper engagement in naval patrolling, and building linkages in the field of defence research and development and production.
  • India and Thailand has expressed a keen interest in enhancing cooperation in maritime domain including anti-piracy cooperation, security of sea lanes of communication including coast guard cooperation to maintain peace and ensure safety and security of navigation in the Indian Ocean.
  • Thailand expressed an interest in the Indian defence industry and its experience and expertise in the field of defence R&D and production.
  • On the economic front, both countries agreed to encourage their businesses to invest in the other

The two countries will issue a joint statement later, expressing their expectations to increase maritime security, double trade in five years, push the India-Myanmar-Thai road project, cooperate in civil aviation, fight cybercrime and promote people-to-people cooperation.


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