ASEAN-India Free Trade Area Part IV: Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia

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By Alex Tangkilisan

Mar. 7 – In the fourth and final part of our ASEAN-India Free Trade Area analysis, we will examine trade trends and statistics from India to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia account for three of ASEAN’s six major economies known as the ASEAN six majors (the other three being Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam). Together, these three countries combine for a GDP of US$864.02 billion, a population of 101.6 million and exports to India amounting to US$23.5 billion (or, about 5 percent of India’s total imports).

Thailand–India Trade

Diplomatic relations between India and Thailand were established soon after India gained independence in 1947. Bilateral relations began to rapidly improve when India launched its “Look East” policy in the early 1990s.

After 1993, India’s all-round relations with Thailand began to prosper and grow, particularly in areas such as trade and investments, tourism, science and technology. In 1996, Thailand instituted a “Look West” policy, which set the stage for enhanced bilateral relations between the two countries. These policies actively complement and reinforce each other, enabling greater economic cooperation.

India and Thailand launched bilateral and regional free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations during 2003. A result of this was the Early Harvest Scheme (EHS), which functioned as a sort of FTA in goods, services and investments between the countries. The agreement eliminated tariffs on a number of goods, including fruits, chromium ores and concentrates, acrylic polymers, precious and semi-precious stones, jewelry, alloy, iron and steel.

As bilateral ties grew, economic and commercial links tightened which led to the signing of a large number of agreements. Thailand and India now cooperate in various multilateral forums such as India’s dialogue partnership with ASEAN, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the East Asia Summit, and trilateral transport linkages with Thailand, Myanmar and India. India is also a member of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) which Thailand initiated in 2002, and of the Mekong–Ganga Cooperation (MGC).

India and Thailand are currently working to almost double bilateral trade to over US$14 billion by 2014.

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