10th round of Thai-Pak FTA be arranged virtually: CG
KARACHI: Consul General of Thailand Thatree Chauvachata has stressed that the 10th round of negotiations to be hosted by Pakistan for finalizing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Thailand and Pakistan suffered delays due to coronavirus pandemic but instead of waiting further, arrangements should be made to hold these crucial negotiations virtually so that the much-awaited FTA, which has been pending since 2015, could be finalized at the earliest, says a Press release.
Exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), Thai CG requested KCCI to push the Ministry of Commerce so that the Thailand-Pakistan FTA could become effective which would surely result in improved trade ties between the two countries. “In this regard, a list carrying 200 items for the FTA has also been forwarded to Pakistan’s Ministry of Commerce and we await response”, he added.
President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President M. Saqib Goodluck, Vice President Shamsul Islam Khan, Former President Majyd Aziz and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present at the meeting.
Thai CG informed that Thailand’s economy has been recovering slowly from the destruction caused by COVID-19 pandemic and the country was steadily opening up for the rest of the world. Recently, the Thai Consulate in Karachi has started issuing tourist visas with conditions while the business visas were already being issued with a 14-day quarantine condition on arrival in Thailand and some other necessary documentation. “However, a proposal is currently being discussed to reduce quarantine time from 14 to 10 days in order to facilitate the business community”, he added.
Earlier, President KCCI Shariq Vohra, while warmly welcoming the Thai Consul General, stated that Pakistan and Thailand have been enjoying great relations and same was the case with Karachi Chamber and Thai Consulate in Karachi who have also been enjoying excellent and cordial relations with each other, resulting in improved trade ties between the two countries.
Agreeing to Thai CG’s suggestions, he assured to take up the delay in finalization of Pakistan-Thailand FTA with the Ministry of Commerce so that this important FTA, which was being demanded by the business communities of both countries, could immediately become a reality. He underscored the need to expedite work on FTA between the two countries while more items must also be added in the FTA list in consultation with stakeholders. “The neglected areas of trade and investment cooperation must also be taken into consideration by both sides and we should not remain confined to trading the traditional items only”, he added.
He said that Thailand possesses number of high value-added industries like agro-business, food processing and automotive production. Pakistan, by arranging joint ventures in these fields, can develop these industries together. Furthermore, there exists potential to collaborate in the field of trade, culture, infrastructure development, science and technology, defense, education and religious tourism.
President KCCI further stressed the need to diversify trade between Pakistan and Thailand, besides promoting and marketing the abundant tourism opportunities in both the countries. There are several sightseeing places in Pakistan that have much attraction for Thai tourists, he said, adding that Pakistan needs to enhance marketing of its tourism potential. “By effectively promoting Pakistan’s Buddhist tourism which possesses many important historical Buddhist sites in northern areas and Sindh as well, we would certainly be able to attract many tourists from Thailand”, he added.
He also emphasized the need to reenergize Pakistan-Thailand Joint Business Forum in order to improve to pave way for more strengthened trade relations between the two friendly countries.
Shariq Vohra informed the CG that in order to improve trade and investment, the Karachi Chamber has recently initiated a series of webinars with Pakistani Consulates abroad, of which the first webinar was held recently with Pakistan’s Consulate in Shanghai that proved very fruitful. In this regard, Thailand Consul General was requested to support this important initiative by arranging and facilitating a similar webinar with Pakistan’s Consulate in Thailand which would surely help the business community in better understanding and identifying potential sectors in Thailand.