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Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh at Seminar on Trade & Investment opportunities between North East India and Thailand

July 30, 2022

Good afternoon / Sawadee Ka;

H.E. Mr. M. L. Chayotid Kridakon, Thai trade representative and advisor to PM

Mr. Arin Jira, Vice Chairman, Federation of Thai industries

Ms. Suchitra Durai, Ambassador of India to Thailand

Distinguished guests; Ladies & Gentlemen;

I am glad to join you all at this Seminar on Trade and Investment opportunities between North East India and Thailand today being organized as part of the 2nd edition of North East India Festival.

2. India and Thailand traditionally enjoy close ties based on age-old social and cultural interaction and Ramayana and Buddhism linking and influencing our two cultures. The ‘Act West’ policy of Thailand complements India’s ‘Act East’ Policy and have contributed to consolidating multifaceted bilateral relations including economic, cultural and educational, science & technology and people-to-people linkages.

3. Thailand is an important partner for India in the India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. North East India is the gateway to Thailand and other South East Asian countries. Commerce, Culture and Connectivity are the focus areas of cooperation between India and Thailand. North-Eastern States of India have to play an important role of the physical bridge between India and South-East Asia.

4. The strategic location of North-Eastern States in the vicinity of South East Asia offers huge opportunity for robust commercial engagement between the two sides. Bilateral trade and investment between India and Thailand have been increasing during recent years. Thailand is now India’s fourth largest trading partner in ASEAN with total trade US$ 15.1 billion during 2021-22. Bilateral trade has been benefited by the ASEAN-India Trade in Good Agreement (AITIGA) implemented in January, 2010 as well as the Early Harvest Scheme between India and Thailand covering 83 products implemented since 2004.

5. The Prime Minister announced transformational reforms and enablers through the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Self-reliant India’ initiatives for building strong capabilities through structural reforms. Reforms and our production linked incentive (PLI) schemes, are creating more positive ecosystems than ever before. Private sector participation has been given a big push in eight areas, including coal, minerals, defence production, civil aviation, power distribution, social infrastructure, space and atomic energy.

6. Other major policy reforms of Indian Government include; Single Window Clearance System (NSWS) to provide a single platform to enable investors to identify and obtain approvals and clearances needed by investors, entrepreneurs, and businesses in India; Easing of Norms for Foreign Investment in Start-ups, Gati Shakti project worth around USD 1.3 trillion for national infrastructure master plan; India Industrial Land Bank to enable investors to scout for available industrial land plots in India.

7. As a result of the new policy reforms and initiatives along with continued liberalization of FDI regime, GST reforms, reforms in corporate tax, improvement in innovation eco-system and competitiveness, India jumped 79 positions in last five years and currently ranks 63rd in the ease of doing business ranking of the World Bank and India ranks 46th in the Global Innovation Index 2021 ranking of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). India is the 3rd biggest Start-up Hub in the World. India received FDI of US$ 81.72 billion during FY 2020-21. India’s total global exports have reached around USD 420 billion in 2021-22.

8. North Eastern States of India with rich flora and fauna produce variety of exotic fruits, flowers, high value spices, and numerous species of medicinal and aromatic plants as well as exotic fishes which offers huge opportunity for business between these States and the South East Asia region. Some of the popular and potential crops indigenous to the region are turmeric, chillies, mandarin, large cardamom, ginger, tea, pineapple, and apples. Thailand may consider importing some of these high value agro-products like ginger, turmeric and tea. etc. Given Thailand’s expertise in agro and food processing technology, we look forward to stronger collaboration in this sector and Thailand may consider sharing technology with the North East Indian states.

9. The availability of exportable resources coupled with the locational advantage, North East India has the potential to transform into a successful international commercial hub of agro based products. There is good opportunity for collaboration in export of value-added products with Thailand. North East region is also one of the major producers and exporter of India’s organic products.

10. Government of India has specially allocated funds to the tune of rupees one lakh thirty four thousand crores for developing a number of infrastructure projects to improve connectivity throughout the region, which includes 20 railway projects worth USD 9.28 billion (₹74,000 crore) for 2,011 km spreading across the North-East. Government is also developing 4,000 km of roads in the region at a total cost of USD 7.27 billion (₹58,000 crore) and 15 ongoing air connectivity projects in the North-East, costing around USD 0.27 billion (₹ 2,200 crore).

11. We hope that the completion of ongoing India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway connecting Moreh in Manipur to Maesot in Thailand will be a game changer and boost the trade and tourism relations between the two countries including North East India region. Signing of MoUs between the Ranong Port of Thailand and Indian Ports of Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Krishnapatnam and Kolkata are expected to boost the bilateral trade in coming years.

12. The business leaders of both the countries have to play an important role in taking forward the economic relations between the two countries and the region. I trust that this Seminar will provide the useful platform for sharing information and establishing contacts between the business community of the two sides. I invite you to visit North East India and explore business opportunities and assure you all possible facilitation and support. I extend my best wishes and once again thank you all for participating in this Seminar.

Thank you.
Kob Khun Khrab.

July 30, 2022,

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