NE India festival opens in Bangkok as Delhi eyes Asean gateway
Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit hosted India’s foreign minister at the launch of the second Northeast India Festival in Bangkok on Saturday, tightening trade ties between the two countries.
Speaking at the launch, Jurin said Northeast India was close to Thailand both geopolitically and culturally, adding that the Thailand-Myanmar-India highway project would boost trade and investment between the two countries.
The highway, being built under India’s Look East policy, will link Moreh in India with Mae Sot in Tak province.
“The festival will play a significant part in tightening the ties,” said Jurin, who is also deputy prime minister.
Northeast India is home to the Tai peoples, who share ethnic and language roots with Thai people. Jurin noted they also celebrate versions of Thailand’s Songkran festival – known as the Sangken festival in Arunachal Pradesh and Bohag Bihu in Assam.
Thailand would sign a mini-free trade agreement (FTA) with Assam and other India states, said the commerce minister.
Northeast India comprises the eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
The Indian government plans to use the Northeast as a gateway to Asean, with the three-country highway serving as the new trade link.
Thailand-India trade in the first six months of this year was worth 314.196 billion baht, up 34.26 per cent from the same period last year, according to the Department of International Trade Promotion. Thai exports to India were worth Bt185.94 billion.
The two-day festival, which also commemorates the 75th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Thailand and India, is being held at Centara Grand Hotel in CentralWorld, Bangkok.