Pakistan Today | 11.1.2013
Thailand to sign FTA with Pakistan
ISLAMABAD — Thailand has expressed its intention to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan to further promote trade and economic relations between the two countries.
The intention was conveyed by Thailand’s Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul during talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in Islamabad on Thursday.
The two sides also discussed inauguration of a Pakistan-Thailand Joint business forum to promote bilateral trade and investment.
Later, addressing a joint news conference along with her Thai counterpart, Khar said a joint study has already been conducted for the feasibility of the FTA between the two countries. She said both the countries enjoyed excellent relations and trade volume had surpassed the one billion dollars mark last year. She said a joint trade committee had been tasked to speed up work on finalisation of the FTA which would be mutually beneficial for the two countries.
She said both countries are committed to institutionalising their relations and in this regard a joint economic commission of the two countries will meet next month. The commission’s meeting will discuss ways and means to further augment bilateral relations in areas of trade, defense and security.
Khar said both countries are close to signing two agreements. One relates to the exemption of diplomatic visa while the other will be signed between the foreign services academy of the two countries. She said Pakistan and Thailand enjoyed historic cultural relations. “There is a dire need to evolve a mechanism for promoting people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and Thailand,” Khar said. She said 56,000 Pakistanis visited Thailand last year as tourists.
The foreign minister said Thailand was an important country of ASEAN and Pakistan attached great importance to becoming a full dialogue member of this organisation.
Describing his talks with Pakistani counterpart as fruitful, the Thai foreign minister said he was satisfied with the trade volume with Pakistan and wanted to further speed up the process in the future.
He said his government wanted Thai investors to invest in areas of infrastructure development, food processing, gem stones and auto parts development in Pakistan. He said the joint economic commission will meet soon to formulate concrete measures for the enhancement of bilateral economic and trade relations. He said both countries had also agreed to enhance their security and defense cooperation. “We have agreed to enhance cooperation to combat terrorism and other international crimes through increased intelligence sharing,” he said.
The Thai foreign minister said Thailand will soon host the third meeting on the security cooperation to discuss issues relating to terrorism and other crimes. Appreciating Pakistan’s constructive role in the region, he said Thailand was ready to work closely with Pakistan for the benefit of the region.
He assured that his country will continue to extend support to Pakistan in the social sector development.