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India - Thailand

Business Background

India and Thailand have shared trading links since ancient times. Today, economic & commercial linkages form an important aspect of India's partnership with Thailand. The past few years have seen a rapid intensification of these linkages between India and Thailand.

Indian community in Thailand has played an useful role in facilitating business links between the two countries. The presence of Indian traders has been recorded during Sukhothai and Ayutthaya times. In the early 19 th century Tamils (precious stone mining and cattle trading) and Gujaratis (textile trade) were among the initial Indian settlers in Thailand in sizeable numbers. During 20 th century Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus and people from other regions also settled in Thailand establishing themselves in textile, real estate and technology goods trade.

Bilateral Trade has multiplied five times since 2000 to reach over US$ 5 billion in 2008. An India-Thailand Free Trade Area (FTA) Agreement is under negotiation. An Early Harvest Scheme ( EHS) under the FTA Framework Agreement is in place since 2004. An India-ASEAN FTA is expected to be signed in early 2009, which will give a further boost to bilateral trade.

Investment by Indian and Thai companies into each others countries is growing. Groups like Aditya Birla and Indo Rama have had business presence in Thailand for several decades. The Tata Group is also expanding its business activities in Thailand.

There is an active India-Thai Joint Commission (headed by respective Foreign Ministers) as also a well-established India-Thai Chamber of Commerce and an active India-Thai Business Association, besides a Joint Business Council.

A significant recent element has been the active promotion of trade & investment linkages between the north eastern states of India and Thailand with a high profile promotional 4-day event held in Bangkok in October 2007 for which a nearly 400 strong business and official delegation visited Bangkok. The Indian delegation was led by the Hon'ble Minister for Development of North Eastern Region and included MOS Industry and Chief Ministers from 5 North East Indian states. Thai ministers have also led business delegations to the North East Indian states in recent months.

In 2007-08 there have been several high level visits between India and Thailand. These include : from the Thai side - Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat (Nov 2008), Prime Minister Surayud (April 07), Dy PM & Minister for Industry Panpiemras (Aug 07), Minister of Commerce (April 07), HRH Princess Mahachakri (March 08, March, Aug 07), Foreign Minister Noppadon (Aug 2008); and from the Indian side - Commerce & Industry Minister (April 08), EAM (Sep 07), Minister DoNER (March, Oct 07) and MOS Industry (Oct 07).

The air connectivity between India and Thailand is growing with over 100 flights per week reflecting a rapidly growing traffic of tourist and businesspersons between the two countries. Around half a million Indian tourists visited Thailand last year. The number of Thai tourists to India was around 50,000.

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