India envoy, trade leader try to ease Thai fears
By Nophakhun Limsamarnphun, The Nation/ANNBANGKOK -- Anil Wadha, India's ambassador to Thailand, is bullish that the two countries will conclude their comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in the next few months after some delays in 2012.
January 20, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
Meanwhile, Satish Sehgal, president of the Thai-India Business Association, said the value of bilateral trade would likely jump from the current US$9 billion (268 billion baht) per year to US$15 billion once the expanded FTA is in place.
“Both countries want to conclude the free trade agreement as soon as possible. When Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was in India in January 2012 as the chief guest for our Republic Day, there was a consensus that we would work towards the conclusion of the FTA by the end of 2012,” Wadha said.
“However, some more time is required. When we are going to have a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement, it's not just about goods, but also investment and services as well as technical barriers of trade and sanitary and related measures.
“As far as goods and services are concerned, there are not many big issues pending, but we need to concentrate on technical barriers, including sanitary and related measures, which are well known internationally but it requires some time to resolve.
“This can't be done overnight. As we speak, both sides continue to exchange emails to clarify these problems, which may need a separate chapter.
“The next round of talks will be in Bangkok next month, after which we will assess how much time is needed to conclude the talks. It could be a few months, but it's definitely going to be within this year,” the ambassador said.
Noting that some Thai negotiators are worried about an influx of Indian doctors and other professionals into Thailand, he played down this concern.
“I think there has been a big economic boom in India along with an increase of foreign direct investment, so the demand for doctors and other professionals has been phenomenal. In fact, there is already a shortage of nurses in some parts of India. There is also the linguistic issue if these people come to work in Thailand.
“On the other hand, Thailand should gain more from the service sector in India under the proposed FTA, as Thai spas, hotels and other services are quite popular in India. Thai workers in these sectors can start working in India.