India expects big push in trade with Thailand
The cooperation in infrastructure and food processing sectors could fuel growth
India and Thailand are optimistic of the bilateral trade between the two economies touching $10 billion by the end of 2012. The two countries are looking at a series of investments in different sectors, including infrastructure and food processing.
“Rapid economic engagement between the two countries paved the way for economic liberalisation, and the implementation of the Early Harvest Scheme led to robust growth. Bilateral trade between India and Thailand has grown six-fold in the past decade and touched $6 billion last year, growing at over 30 percent from the previous year,” Anand Sharma, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, said in a meeting with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on 5 April.
Agreeing with Sharma, the Thai Prime Minister said, “Thailand’s Look West Policy sets the stage in consolidating our substantive bilateral engagement. The past decade has seen a considerable expansion in our economic and political ties with the exchange of several high-level visits from both sides, underscoring our mutual commitment for elevating the economic engagement.”
While inviting Thai business houses to invest in India, Sharma said, “Enhancing the share of the manufacturing sector in the GDP is a priority for India. Thailand can help in this regard, as they have a proven expertise in this area and also managed to have a high share of manufacturing in their GDP.”
During the business conclave, both sides agreed there was room for cooperation in sectors like pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, food processing, automobiles and chemical and allied industries.
Sharma highlighted that Indian companies had invested $2 billion in the Thai economy, while Thailand-based business houses had invested nearly $1billion in India. “Complementary strengths of our industry make us natural partners, and the advantage of geography only reinforces this relationship,” he added.
Sharma said that infrastructure is an area of high priority for India and it would attract investments of over $1 trillion in the next five years. He asked Thai companies to partner with India in its infrastructure development drive, which he termed as ‘a critical sector’.
Sharma also added that India was keen on the proposed tri-nation highway project linking India and Thailand through Myanmar and said that it was ‘an area of high priority’.
Sharma said that India expects investments of $200 billion and about 20 percent growth in the agribusiness sector in the next five years. He said it could create enormous opportunities for Thai business houses to invest in the entire value chain of agriculture, including agroprocessing, to curb post-harvest wastage, which goes up to the tune of 30 to 35 percent of the total agricultural produce in India.
Samiran Saha is Assistant Editor, Business with Tehelka.