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Pattaya Daily News

27 June 2007 :: 12:06:42 pm 22990

FTA for Thailand and India may be Finalised by September this year

The two countries are likely to start negotiations on Free Trade Agreement on goods next month and the agreement could be finalised by September. Simultaneously the two nations would also discuss FTA in services.
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Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said negotiations with India to forge a trade agreement are “on track” after disagreements over the range of goods to be covered held up the accord.

“We see in India a dynamic force for enhanced economic cooperation within Asia and indeed globally,” “India today has become a dynamic marketplace and investment destination, meaning bright prospects for our bilateral trade and investments.” Surayud said

Negotiations between Thailand and India that commenced in January 2004 have been hampered by India’s demands to exclude almost 500 items from the tariff-reduction package, Thai commerce minister Krirk-Krai Jirapaet said on June 11. The exclusion will mean the draft accord will lower 70 percent of the trade tariffs between the two nations, less than the 90 percent World Trade Organization goal, he said.

India and Thailand have already cut duties on 82 products, including fruits, vegetables, wheat, diamonds and some metals, under a framework agreement that came into operation in September 2004. India and Thailand are aiming to abolish duties on goods traded between the two countries by 2010

The two nations are expected to complete negotiations this year, paving the way for signing of the Free-Trade Agreement.

“I expect the Free-Trade Agreement to be signed by September this year,” India’s commerce secretary G.K. Pillai said today. “The trade agreement will cover only goods but we want the negotiations on services to be completed soon.”

“Today, India has become Thailand’s new major market, our largest trading partner in South Asia and 16th-largest export market,” Surayud said.

Thailand welcomes Indian investment, particularly in areas such as computers and pharmaceuticals, he said. Inviting Indian companies to invest in Thailand, he tried to allay concerns about the direction of Thailand’s politics and economy.

Thailand is “committed” to an open economy, which is expected to expand as much as 4.5 percent, said Surayud, who was installed as the prime minister after the September coup by army chief Sondhi Boonyarataklin, pledging to heal divisions in the country.

“Thailand’s return to full democracy is definitely on track,” Surayud said. “There is no backtracking.” .

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : Business News

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