Interviews

Thailand eyes India as potentiallya robust trade partner

Having studied Economics and then his participation in inter national forums like WTO & APEC, the Ambassador of Thailand to India has a very affirmative stance on the Indo-Thai economic and commercial participation. The countries which share a total trade of $10 billion, though has many common problems but they are very different in many aspects.

Thailand, lately opened its first store by CP group in India, which was supported by the Ministry of Food Processing and hence the partnership between nations seems to be turning robust. Both the country’s populations formed by majority of farmers and those who are associated with farming.

Mr. Chutintorn Gongsakdi draws light on few of the distressed and envisages a prospect for the development of both the nations.

The excerpts from the interview with our representative Monika Mondal

Q. What is the state of agriculture in Thailand ?

Agriculture contributes to 4% of Thai GDP.As in most of the countries, agriculture is treated as a political tool and hence the sector being one of the most important one is not the biggest income earner. The technology is trying to push the agri economy to move from primitive practices.

Q. How do you compare the economical &social conditions of farmers in India and Thailand ?

The farmers in both the countries grapple with similar kinds of troubles, them being lack of education and innovation. Countries like us work really hard but are not getting paid worth the labour. Most of the farmers do have smallholdings in both the countries. But the Thai farmers are diverging ways with news means of farming. Most of our agri exports are stilllimited to raw produce, but we should betaking the plunge to get more processed food and value added products.There is struggle between modern farming, large contract farming and independent farmers. Independent farmers are moving towards organic farming,where low price is less of a factor. Farmers are opening their option to many multinational companies, who are offering them contract farming.Farmers are not the rich est people in society, because one can make more from other professions, than farming. Prices fluctuate a lot, suppose for once the prices for rubber are drawn good, next year due to super harvest, the prices contract.

Q. How are the trade relations between India and Thailand ?

We do a trade of about $10 million, from which India exports $3 billion worth of products to Thailand. Thailand exports few food products, computer parts, air conditioning, clothes and car parts to India,while India exports few machineries and computer parts to Thailand. We need to explore the markets well and expect the engagement to flourish in the time to come.

We also share the trade business of $10 million with our neigh bour Cambodia and hence,With India the possibilities are large. India is taking over some of the companies especially service industry. Also, a lot of Thais come to India for higher study.

Q. Thailand is one of the largest exporters of agri commodities. How do you look at it ?

Thailand takes the number 12 on the ladder of largest exporters. USA, being number 1,exports about $10 billion, and us being at 12,exports only $2 billion. To be amongst thetop 5 exporters, the numbers should touch the mark of at least $5 billion. Though weare largest exporters amongst others, but substantially we need to make huge progress.

Q. Please comment on the governmental support and policy intervention for the Thai Agriculture ?

Government supports the farmers in the same way in which Indian government supports the farmers with price guarantee schemes and other developments. Smart farming project is ongoing in the country under which the young farmers are given exposure to countries like Holland, which works as an inspiration to the farmers of the country. Few selected farmers get this privilege and they promulgate innovative ideas amongst the community.

These innovations fills the development voids which other wise is difficult considering lack of knowledge and capital to invest. Farmers are experimenting with hydroponics and organic produce, where getting fair price is less of a factor. Unlike the farmers of developed countries, where they use airplanes for crop

protection, the farmers of India & Thailandmight not fly airplanes sooner, but Govt. is justlooking forward for decent returns.

Q. What is the major problem that you generally witness, being the ambassador of Thailand ?

Thailand has a peculiar image in the people’s mind, generally the name Thailand is replaced by beaches, tourism spots and food, but there are other fronts to the country as well which are yet to be properly highlighted. The trade engagement between the two countries is innascent stage and I wish to upscale the $10 billion frontier.


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