Sandeep Dikshit

Seeks transparency in banking and repatriation rules, taxation laws

NEW DELHI: Eager to step up economic ties with India after the recent signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in goods, Thailand is seeking greater clarity on several issues of concern to the industry such as banking and repatriation rules, taxation laws and opportunities in the power sector, visiting Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya told The Hindu here.

Transparency on these aspects is crucial for the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEANS). After signing the FTA in goods with India, both sides are moving to conclude a similar pact on services next year and expect to ink the Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement in the near future.

“Getting into the manufacturing side in India is quite easy. We are also getting information on transport development. But we need more information on some other issues and have asked India to send officers from the banking and taxation side to Bangkok,” said Mr. Piromya.

Coordinated patrols

“Both sides are also keen to expand defence cooperation after the success in carrying out our coordinated patrols in the northern part of the Straits of Malacca, a narrow maritime chokepoint that is prone to piracy. As Thai fishing fleets operate around Somalia and many of its commercial vessels also pass through that area, Bangkok is hopeful that Indian Navy, which is deployed in the area, would respond to any request for assistance in case of an attack by pirates.”

After Malaysia expressed interest in Indian military hardware, especially the Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missile, Thailand too is looking for Indian armaments. Apart from stating that the government is looking for arms for all the three services, the Thai Foreign Minister did not elaborate. After having seen the Indian armed forces operate up to Indonesia during the 2004 Tsunami, Thailand feels both sides could develop closer military level ties in the area of disaster relief.

On the political side, Thailand has been a supporter of active Indian participation in the area and feels the country cannot be ignored in the Asia Pacific region, the Indian Ocean and area west of the Pacific Ocean.

Thailand would now like “all its friends,” including India, to intervene and persuade its neighbour Cambodia, with which India has good ties, to stop interfering in its domestic affairs. The asylum given to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is a sore point and Mr. Piromya terms it “outright interference in the affairs of Thailand.”