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Thai envoy stresses FTA critical to balance bilateral trade

International The News - 7 November 2021

Thai envoy stresses FTA critical to balance bilateral trade

Paoyee Waesahmae, Acting Consul General (CG) of Thailand, on Saturday stressed that a fast-tracked finalisation of the long-pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between two countries was critical to boost bilateral trade volume.

“Currently the trade balance between the two countries was in favour of Thailand, which can be balanced if the difficulties were efficiently tackled by the government of Pakistan, particularly the delays in signing of the FTA,” said Thai diplomat speaking at Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).

The envoy said negotiations for finalising and concluding the FTA suffered delays due to restriction imposed to contain Covid-19 pandemic but now it was high time to conclude this agreement, which would certainly go in favour of both countries.

“KCCI, being a major stakeholder, must push the government to expedite the process of signing the FTA between the two countries,” he added.

President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, Senior Vice President KCCI Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President KCCI Qazi Zahid Hussain, Honorary Trade Advisor Thailand Arif Suleman, and KCCI Managing Committee Members were present at the meeting.

Thai CG stated that bilateral trade was in good shape but would improve further if the business and industrial community of Karachi focused more on improving their terms with Thai counterparts.

“We are ready to fully cooperate with businessmen intending to strengthening their ties with Thai businesspeople but in order to achieve the desired objective, it was essential for the Pakistani businessmen to know Thai people and understand their culture so that they could accordingly supply Pakistani goods to Thai market as per requirement,” he added.

Waesahmae said although Thai delegations were being brought to Pakistan and they were also regularly participating in KCCI’s “My Karachi Exhibition” but all trade promotional activities remained suspended during the outbreak of pandemic.

Moreover, a large number of Thai tourists regularly visited the northern areas of Pakistan every year, whereas around 90,000 Pakistani tourists also visited Thailand prior to Covid-19 pandemic but the overall tourism activities suffered terribly due to the pandemic, he added.

“We hope the situation normalises soon so that we could carry out trade activities together and work collectively for increased bilateral trade.”

He also advised that Pakistani authorities must focus on improving tourism infrastructure to improve the number of tourists from Thailand as Thai tourists had been complaining of facing a lot of problems, while touring Pakistan mainly due to lack of basic facilities.

Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Muhammad Idrees said both countries were enjoying sound bilateral trade relations before the pandemic which disrupted them during 2020.

Pakistan’s export to Thailand dropped 44.57 percent to $141.53 million as compared to $255.37 million in 2019.

Similarly, Pakistan’s import from Thailand also descended to $966.6 million in 2020 against $1,175.69 million in 2019 showing a decline of 17.78 percent.

He noted the trade balance remained in Thailand’s favour by $825.06 million in 2020, which must be made balanced by facilitating linkages between the business communities of Karachi and Thailand.

“Thailand possesses number of high value-added industries like agro-business, food processing, and automotive production and Pakistan, by arranging joint ventures in these fields, can develop these industries together.” Pakistan could be a gateway for penetrating South and Central Asia for Thailand, he said.

President KCCI assured full support and cooperation to Thai Consulate in Karachi for all its endeavors to enhance trade and investment ties between the two countries.

He also urged the Acting CG to look into the possibility of encouraging Thai universities to establish their campuses in Karachi via joint ventures with local universities.

 source: International The News