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Remarks by External Affairs Minister during interaction with Indian Business Leaders Group in Bangkok

June 28, 2015

India’s Ambassador to Thailand Shri Harsh Shringla,
Secretary (East) in Ministry of External Affairs Shri Anil Wadhwa,
Members of the Indian Business Leaders Group,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here in Thailand and to meet the leading Indian business leaders in this very friendly country. Our bilateral relations with Thailand are based on deep-rooted cultural, religious and neighbourly association between the people of our two nations. Our common heritage of Buddhism and the philosophy of compassion, tolerance, non-violence and peace have laid strong foundations for this relationship.

Our relationship has expanded to virtually all areas of bilateral cooperation in recent years.

I am pleased to see that so many of you are in the leadership positions in corporates in Thailand and the region. In you I see the strength of our people-to-people relations. And in you I also see an influential group of leaders who can contribute to the economic growth of both Thailand and India.

The last 12 months of our Government have been transformational for our diplomacy. We have engaged closely with our neighbourhood, strengthened our relations with major countries, energized our engagement with the East and repositioned India at the world stage.

I am happy to say that we have reached new milestones in our global outreach and made significant achievements in the last one year in transforming our relations with the outside world.

India's ‘Look East’ Policy of the last two decades has been elevated to ‘Act East’ Policy under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. Our Government is resolved to move with a great sense of priority and speed to implement the 'Act East Policy.' We envisage a more vigorous and proactive engagement with this economically vibrant region of our extended neighbourhood. Thailand is an important pillar of our policy and a valued partner.

Our Government is working on the simple 3C mantra – Commerce, Culture and Connectivity. In all these three areas I cannot overemphasize the importance of Thailand. We have embarked on ambitious projects for land connectivity with Thailand through Myanmar. We are also working on enhancing our sea connectivity with Thailand which is a maritime neighbor of India.

The enhanced connectivity with Thailand will help our traders and businesses to link up with the markets of South East Asia. In particular, this would help our North Eastern States in their development. The enhanced connectivity will also help in further strengthening the people-to-people contacts between our two countries. It would nurture the common cultural and religious heritage between India and Thailand whose cornerstone is Buddhism. Friends, you would have followed the good news coming from our economy which is poised to grow 7.5 per cent this year, according to the latest World Bank forecast, which would make it the world's fastest growing economy in 2015.

The fundamentals of the economy are very stable and the IMF, the World Bank, OECD, credit rating agencies and other experts speak in one voice of optimism about India's growth prospects.

Our Government came with the slogan of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance. We have strived to offer a stable, predictable and transparent policy regime, making the country an attractive destination for investors. The last one year of the new government has contributed to economic good governance and all round development.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has focused on moving fast in designing policies and laws to promote growth and offering foreign investors 'red carpet' instead of 'red tape'. In the last one year, FDI limits have been raised in insurance and construction sectors and foreign investment limits have been raised in defence and railways. The hallmark of the Governments policy has been to facilitate infrastructure development and manufacturing.

We have launched several flagship schemes aimed at rejuvenating our economic growth and improving the life of our people. The Make-in-India campaign, establishment of 100 smart cities; Golden Quadrilateral project; DMIC and other industrial corridors, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Clean Ganga Mission, Digital India, Skill India, all are planned to act as catalysts to garner the untapped economic activity.

The Government has gone ahead with structural reforms and arrived at a consensus with the States on bringing the amendment to the constitution to implement the Goods and Services Tax. There have been reforms in the labour, banking, insurance and pension sectors.

Millions of Indians have opened new bank accounts under the financial inclusion plan of the Government and this is expected to improve savings and investments.

Reforms have also been initiated in the energy sector, particularly in power sector. Our Government has shown its resolve to spur investments by implementing a slew of measures which can be categorized under 'ease of doing business'. We are building a tax regime that is predictable, stable and competitive and have brought in a positive regulatory framework.

For handholding new investors, we have started one-stop shop facilitation mechanisms like e-Biz project for integrated application process and the Invest India Cell which will provide end to end solutions. Our systems are being made sharp, flexible, effective and fast. In my Ministry, we are focused on economic diplomacy as one of our priority areas and have also set goals for efficient and timely provision of Consular Services as a key benchmark for our Missions.

We appreciate the role and contribution of the Indian community in Thailand in building the economic and commercial partnership and goodwill between the two countries. The Indian community in Thailand truly represents the entrepreneurial spirit that marks modern India and we are proud of your great accomplishments in all areas of human endeavor.

I urge all of you to also consider the avenues for collaboration in India so that you could also contribute to the ambitious initiatives of the Government of India aimed at bringing welfare to its citizens.

The economies of India and Thailand share complementarities in several important sectors. You could utilize these complementarities to contribute to the tremendous growth that has been witnessed in our bilateral trade in the last 10 years.

Friends, you would have noticed that there is new level of interest from across the world in building partnerships of trade, investment and innovation in India. I invite all of you to also become a part of this mission.

We would be happy to provide all necessary support in your endeavor. Our Embassy could channel your proposals to various states of India and convey your concerns and suggestions to the Government.

I would like to assure all of you that we will continue to assist you in your ventures in India and we hope that you have productive engagement in dealing with India.

Thank you.


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