ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Thailand would sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA) this year that would boost bilateral trade by reducing tariffs and removing other trade barriers between the two countries, said Ambassador of Thailand Suchart Liengsaengthong on Tuesday.

Speaking at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), which he visited along with a 12-member delegation, comprising seniors of Thai companies, he said, “Pakistan-Thailand current bilateral trade of $1 billion is not up to real potential both the countries have.”

The delegation held B2B (business to business) meetings with ICCI members of relevant sectors to seek partnerships. It represented some renowned companies of Thailand, including Giffarine Skyline Unity Co. Ltd, manufacturers of cosmetics, Fashion Food Co Ltd, dealing in readymade food and snacks, Srithai Superware Public Company Ltd, dealing in melamine kitchenware, SCG Trading Co Ltd, manufacturers of cement, construction & industrial material and energy products and Bangkok Chain Hospital PCL. Speaking at the occasion, Suchart Liengsaengthong said that the purpose of bringing Thai businessmen was to remove some misconceptions about Pakistan and to provide them first-hand knowledge about the country’s business and economic potential.

He added that Thai entrepreneurs were interested in doing some serious business with Pakistani counterparts and they had brought samples of their products to introduce these to their Pakistani counterparts. He asked the ICCI office-bearers to reciprocate by sending their delegation to Thailand as exchange of delegations was the best way to explore areas of mutual cooperation and promote two-way trade.

In his welcome address, ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh said that Thailand had the ‘Look West Policy’ while Pakistan had the ‘Vision East Asia Policy’, and both countries had plenty of potential to complement each other in many areas.

He said Pakistan could facilitate Thailand in promoting trade with South and Central Asian countries whereas Thailand could provide Pakistan access to ASEAN region.

Sheikh said Pakistan had a great attraction for Thai entrepreneurs, especially in ready-made food and snacks, cosmetics, kitchen wares, cement, construction and in many other fields as it was a huge consumer market. He said Thai businessmen should explore investment opportunities in various sectors of Pakistan’s economy, including CPEC projects, food processing, agriculture, textile, engineering & electronics, construction, pharmaceutical gems & jewellery etc.

He assured that ICCI would fully cooperate with Thai entrepreneurs for forging business partnerships and investing money in Pakistan.