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Sawasdee Krub and Namaste.

       The year 2012 marks a unique and significant occasion for the relations between Thailand and India as we will celebrate 65 years of our diplomatic relationship which was established in 1947. The contact itself dates back long before that. The peoples of Thailand and India have enjoyed a deep and enduring connection for many centuries. Thais and Indians share many common cultural and religious aspects which take roots in their everyday life.

       In recent years, India’s Look East Policy and Thailand’s Look West Policy have been linking up remarkably. The signing of the Framework Agreement to establish Free Trade Area between India and Thailand in 2003 was another milestone and has already resulted in phenomenal growth in our bilateral trade through the Early Harvest Scheme. The FTA is envisaged to bring about greater benefits and economic and commercial links between our two countries in the years to come. Companies in both countries can now look towards becoming long-term strategic business partners. Thailand also recognizes the increasingly important role of India on the global stage.

         During 24 - 26 January 2012, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's first woman Prime Minister, paid a State Visit to India as Chief Guest for India's Republic Day. During the visit, the Thai Prime Minister held bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and called on Indian President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Vice-President Shri Hamid Ansari, while also receiving a courtesy call from Shri Rahul Gandhi.

        At the bilateral talks, the two leaders agreed to expedite the conclusion of negotiations on a bilateral FTA by mid-2012. They agreed to intensify progress on connectivity projects such as the India-Myanmar-India trilateral highway to further enhance economic cooperation as well as people-to-people contact between Southeast Asian and South Asian regions. Both leaders decided to step up bilateral cooperation in the fields of defense and security. They also agreed to enhance cooperation in culture, science & technology, education, renewable energy and water management.

        After the talks, the two Prime Ministers witnessed the signing of 6 agreements ; Treaty on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, MOU on Defence Cooperation, the 2nd Protocol to amend the Framework Agreement for Establishing Thailand-India FTA, Programme of Cooperation in Science & Technology, Cultural Exchange Programme for 2012-2014 and MOU between Chulalongkorn University and ICCR.

         During the visit, Prime Minister Yingluck also met with Thai business CEOs who are doing business in India. She also addressed a large group of Indian entrepreneurs at a Business Lunch Talk organized by CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM. The visit also saw further acceleration, broadening and deepening of the close cooperation between Thailand and India.

         In 2011, the total value of our bilateral trade was more than 7.4 billion USD., and is projected to double within the next few years. On investment, companies such as Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Indorama and Dabur Pharma have made substantial investment in Thailand. While Thai investment in India are made by companies such as Italian-Thai Development (ITD) Cementation, Charoen Pokphand (CP), Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Krung Thai Bank, Delta Electronics, and Pruksa India Housing Private Ltd. among others.

         Tourism is another fast growing industry. In 2011, 800,000 Indians visited Thailand. As for the film industry, Thailand is now the most favourite overseas location for Bollywood movie producers. Thailand is also becoming a popular place for Indian couples to organize spectacular Indian weddings. . The relationship between Thailand and India has been amicable and strong and I am certain that it will continue to flourish for many years to come. Tomwit Jarnson Consul-General