Thailand close to signing mini-FTA with southern Indian state, eyes more states
The Ministry of Commerce is negotiating a mini free-trade agreement (FTA) with Telangana state in India, aiming to increase trade and investment value between Thailand and the southern Indian state that has a population of 35 million people.
The agreement is expected to be signed by March 2021, Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said.
“India has a population of 1.3 billion people and its GDP is the world’s fifth largest. It is Thailand’s largest trade partner in South Asia,” he said. “Earlier we had negotiated an FTA with India involving trade valued at Bt10.12 billion. However, so far only 60 per cent of the trade target has been achieved due to lockdown restrictions during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Next year we expect to sign a mini-FTA with India’s Telangana state and later will expand to signing with other states, such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and seven sister states in India’s northeastern region,” added Jurin. “This will help Thai entrepreneurs in penetrating India’s market at the regional level.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of Thai-Indian Business Association, Satish Sehgal, said that Thailand should place as strong a focus on India as on China due to the sheer population size of India.
“Out of over 1.3 billion population, more than 300 million are classified as middle-class, or about five times the Thai population,” he said.
“We should focus on selling to this group, who have always preferred Thai products and services.
“Indians like to organise their weddings in Thailand, where they could spend up to Bt25 million per event, while Indian tourists usually spend around Bt100,000 to Bt1 million per person in Thailand,” he added.
“In the past, we had signed an FTA with India but the trade value was not very high. Signing more mini-FTAs with different states could help increase trade value between the two nations,” he said.