LAHORE           -             Consul General of Thailand Thatree Chauvachata on Saturday said Pakistan was one of the important trade partners of Thailand and both countries had ability to further strengthen mutual trade and economic ties.

He was addressing a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) where LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar, Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad also spoke while Executive Committee Members Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim, Haris Attiq, Zeshan Sohail Malik and Haji Asif Sehar were also present.

The consul general said, in 2019, the bilateral trade between two countries jumped to over $1.46 billion, adding that Thailand exported goods and services worth 1174.25 million dollar to Pakistan.

Among these included automobiles, crude oil, chemicals, rubber products, machinery and polymer, etc. Similarly Pakistani export to Thailand recorded an increase of 41.45 per cent in 2019, he said and added that among these export items included fresh aquatic animals, garments and textile, etc. He said Pakistan ranks 36th in Thailand’s in global investment while it ranked second in South Asia.

He maintained that four major Thai companies had already invested in Pakistan while another four were exploring new opportunities for investment in Pakistan.

The Thai consul general informed the house that very recently Pakistan’s Electro-Polymers Private Limited and Thai Stanley Electric Public Company Limited had inked a historic partnership by signing international try-party Joint Venture with Japan, Thailand and Pakistan.

He said Thailand and Pakistan had been discussing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 2013 and hopefully it would be finalized very soon. He said Thailand was a major destination for tourists and last year around 80,000 Pakistani tourists visited the country.

He said political consultation at secretary level and meetings of Joint Economic Commission would be held during this year to further bolster economic relations between Pakistan and Thailand. He said that Pakistan had been actively participating in Asian Cooperation Dialogue while Thailand also supported Pakistan in its entry to ASEAN Regional Forum.

“In 2004 both countries signed MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) on Anti Terrorism and other related crimes”, he added. LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Pakistan and Thailand enjoyed strong diplomatic relations based on mutual trust. He said that traditionally, Thailand and Pakistan had also been enjoying steady trade relations. Thailand comes at 9th place among the top importing countries and at 24th place among the top exporting countries for Pakistan.

“In recent years, the trade between the two countries has shown tremendous improvement. In 2016, the volume of two way trade was around one billion dollars that surged to 1.7 billion dollars in 2018. From 2016 to 2018, Pakistan’s exports to Thailand increased from 110 million dollars to 225 million dollars whereas Pakistan’s imports from Thailand went up from 920 million dollars to 1.4 billion dollars”, he mentioned. He said, “Pakistan’s exports to Thailand consist of frozen fish, wheat, mineral fuels and cotton etc whereas we are importing automotive parts, rubber tires, chemicals, polymers, artificial staple fibers and machinery parts etc from Thailand”.

The LCCI president said that a lot of further progress could be made on the trade front by signing a Free Trade Agreement. The governments of both countries should take necessary steps in this regard.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Thailand had made substantial progress in Halal Food Exports in last few years. “The LCCI has also identified Halal Food as one of our priorities sectors where we can enhance our exports. We would certainly like to learn from your experience and also enter into Joint Ventures with your private sector companies in Halal Food sector”, he added.

LCCI Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar said that Pakistan had a very vibrant and growing Information Technology sector which offered a tremendous room for joint ventures between the two countries.

LCCI office-bearers invited the Thai businessmen to arrange sector-specific delegations to visit Pakistan to have first hand knowledge about the opportunities of trade and investment in Pakistan.

They said that active engagement of the business community and diplomatic missions of the two countries, exchange of trade delegations, exhibitions of products and socio-cultural programmes in each others country could prove handy in further improving people to people contacts.