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LAHORE: Ambassador of Thailand HE Chakkrid Krachaiwong has said that Thai Airways to resume its flight operations for Lahore and Islamabad soon which were suspended due to Covid-19.

He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Rehman Aziz Chan, and Vice President Haris Ateeq also spoke on the occasion. Executive Committee Members Attiq ur Rehman, Mardan Ali Zaidi, Muhammad Ali Afzal, and Chaudhry Wajid Ali were also present on the occasion.

The Ambassador said that the trade figures decreased last year due to Covid-19 but this year the trade figures are once again picking up as the conditions are normalizing. He hoped that mutual trade will be flourished in the days to come.

He said that Thailand is already investing in Pakistan while more Thai companies are keen to start their operations here. He said that Pakistani products should be introduced in the Thai market more effectively. He said that Thailand and Pakistan should join hands to give new strengths to their trade and economic ties. Both countries with dynamic consumer markets have unlimited scope for the businessmen of the two countries.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that there is a need of providing greater market access to Pakistani products in the Thai market, especially in the textile sector through reduction in duties.

He said it is indeed a distinctive fact that Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that was never colonized by any European country. Interestingly, in the Thai language, the name of the country is "Prathet Thai" which means "land of the free".

The LCCI President quoted that Pakistan and Thailand enjoy strong diplomatic relations based on mutual trust. He said that according to the trade figures, the total volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Thailand was around $1 billion in 2020, as compared to around $1.3 billion in 2019.

He said that Pakistan's Exports to Thailand stood around $141 million in 2020, declining considerably from $255 million in 2019. On the other hand, our imports from Thailand were $896 million in 2020, as compared to around $1 billion in 2019.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that these trade figures reflect that Pakistan faces a trade deficit of around $755 million in trade with Thailand. There is certainly a need to bridge the trade deficit and increase the volume of bilateral trade by exploring new avenues of economic cooperation.

He said that Pakistan's exports to Thailand consist of frozen fish, other made-up of textiles articles, beverages and cotton etc., whereas we are importing motor vehicles, articles of plastics, staple fibres, organic chemicals and machinery parts etc., from Thailand.

"Keeping in view the immense trade potential of the two countries, the signing of a Free Trade Agreement has become a need of the hour. The second round of Pakistan-Thailand bilateral political consultations was held in May 2021 and both sides agreed to work together for the early conclusion of a mutually beneficial bilateral free trade agreement. We pin great hope with these developments", he added.

He said that we should expect a good outcome of these gestures that Thailand's "Look West" and Pakistan's "Vision East Asia" policies are complementing each other. He said that the Governments and the private sector representative of both countries should take the necessary steps to turn this vision into reality.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan has a very vibrant and growing Information Technology sector which offers tremendous room for Joint Ventures between the two countries. Thailand is famous for its world-class tourist destinations. "We would certainly like to benefit from the Thai expertise for the development of the Tourism sector in Pakistan", he said.

Thailand is a place that is known worldwide for its food, culture, colours and beautiful sites. Thai food is equally liked in Pakistan and over the years, there has been a mushroom growth of Thai Restaurants seen in urban centres of Pakistan.

The LCCI Senior Vice President Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq said that Pakistan has recently liberalized its policy framework to encourage the manufacturing of Mobile Phone Devices and Electric Vehicles in Pakistan. These hi-tech sectors offer a great potential of joint ventures between the private sectors of both countries.

They said that the world has learned a new way of living in the pandemic situation and by way of following certain SOPs, we can resume trade diplomacy.

The LCCI office-bearers said that Pakistan has done very well in curtailing the harms of coronavirus. They invited Thai businessmen to arrange sector-specific delegations of Thai businessmen to visit Pakistan to have first-hand knowledge about the opportunities of trade and investment in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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