India, Thailand unveil map for intensifying economic and security ties


Ansari meets Thailand PM

BANGKOK: Building on ancient cultural linkages nourished by Buddhism and Ramayana, India and Thailand have firmed up a roadmap for bolstering economic and security cooperation that will translate into a more proactive engagement to shape a balanced regional architecture.

India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari held wide-ranging talks with Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha at the majestic Government House in the Thai capital on February 3. This is the first vice-presidential visit from India to Thailand, a key pillar of New Delhi’s Act East policy, in five decades. Bangkok rolled out the red carpet and accorded a ceremonial welcome for his Indian guest. The discussions focused on a broad spectrum of bilateral and regional issues, including scaling up trade and investment, bolstering security and counter-terror cooperation and maritime security.” Our talks earlier today have put in place a roadmap for further strengthening our economic cooperation and intensification of our collaborations in all areas,” Mr Ansari said at a banquet hosted in his honour by the Thai leader.

The ambitious agenda firmed up at the talks have set the state for the Thai prime minister’s maiden visit to India. Maritime security and counter-terror cooperation figured prominently in discussions. “As maritime neighbours, we have a shared interest in the security of international sea lanes of communication and commerce. Our resolve to strengthen our bilateral engagement in the areas of security and defence will help the region as a whole and promote greater regional economic integration and connectivity,” said Mr Ansari.

Conjuring up a robust future for India-Thailand relations, Mr Ansari placed the burgeoning relationship in the context of the changing geo-economics and geo-politics of the region. “With its unique geographic location, Thailand can be a bridge linking
South East Asia to East Asia; while India can act as your springboard to West and Central Asia and to Europe,” he said. Mr Ansari, an erudite scholar and former diplomat, also made a vigorous pitch for Thai companies to step up investment in India and partner in India’s growth story. “There is growing interest from across the world in building partnerships of trade, investment and innovation with India. I would urge the government and business community in Thailand to avail of the opportunities provided by a growing India.”

Here are the highlights from Mr Ansari’s speech at the banquet hosted in Bangkok on February 3:

  • We are both engaged in transforming our ancient lands in to modern knowledge economies. India is a bright spot with the highest economic growth amongst the larger emerging countries. There is growing interest from across the world in building partnerships of trade, investment and innovation with India. I would urge the government and business community in Thailand to avail of the opportunities provided by a growing India.
  • I see a very promising future for our bilateral relations. There is much untapped potential in our relationship and much to rediscover and learn from each other’s culture, industry and society. With its unique geographic location, Thailand can be a bridge linking South East Asia to East Asia; while India can act as your springboard to West and Central Asia and to Europe.
  • Our talks earlier today have put in place a roadmap for further strengthening our economic cooperation and intensification of our collaborations in all areas. Your scheduled visit to India this year will further enhance this vibrant and mutually beneficial cooperation. More than one million Indian tourists who visit the ‘Land of Smiles’ every year see the indelible imprint of our shared heritage – epitomized by the timeless message of Lord Buddha and the shared lore of the Ramayana.
  • India and Thailand are natural partners, linked by history, geography and the close contacts between our two peoples. My visit, the first at by an Indian Vice-President in 50 years, is a manifestation of the desire we have to deepen the flow of ideas, people to people contacts and bilateral trade between our lands.
  • My visit is taking place at a time when our bilateral relations can be described as excellent. We greatly appreciate the role of His Majesty the King in nurturing these relations; just as the idea of Buddhism, though germinating in India, has been nurtured in this land. We  appreciate your Government’s commitment to imparting greater momentum to the relations between our two countries.
  • Tomorrow, I will speak about India’s ‘Act East’ Policy at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University.
  • Thailand is an important pillar of this policy and a valued partner. We admire the way Thailand has brought progress to its industrious people by making great strides in socio economic development.
  • Our cooperation, both bilaterally and in the ASEAN rubric, encompasses diverse areas of mutual interest including Trade and Investment, Science and Technology, Education, and Cultural Exchanges.
  • People-to-people contacts at various levels are the lifeblood of our friendship.
  • As maritime neighbours, we have a shared interest in the security of international sea lanes of communication and commerce.
  • India is a bright spot with the highest economic growth amongst the larger emerging countries.
  • There is growing interest from across the world in building partnerships of trade, investment and innovation with India.
  • With its unique geographic location, Thailand can be a bridge linking South East Asia to East Asia; while India can act as your springboard to West and Central Asia and to Europe.
  • Next year, India and ASEAN will mark the 25th anniversary of their Dialogue Relations. We look forward to working with you under the framework of ASEAN. We shall strive to strengthen the India-ASEAN partnership, as also the BIMSTEC and Mekong-Ganga Cooperation.
  • Globalization of terrorism, impact of climate change on humanity and the health hazards which know no borders require global action. The international community is grappling with issues related to migration and integration of people.

Author Profile

Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.