While analyzing the relevence of Thailand for India's Look East Policy, discuss the recent progress in bilateral relations of the two countries.

India and ASEAN relationship have shown great progress in last two decades, in economic as well as strategic spheres. India- ASEAN trade is around $70 billion and ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner. Thailand is a very vital component of India ASEAN relationship.
Thailand is the key pillar of Act East Policy and both sides co-operate on a wide variety of issues including bilateral, regional and multilateral aspects.

  • Connectivity
    Because of its strategic geographic location, India is the connector between South Asia and Southeast Asia. The India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway is a key project in this direction. This will also help in the development of North East.
    Apart from IMT highway, Dawei port(Southeastern Myanmar) which is a special econimic zone is very important. India is also planning to connect the port with Chennai, this will provide an alternative sea route to Southeast Asia, reducing the dependency on Malacca Strait.
  • Economic
    Trade Agreement provides immense business opportunities and will boost bilateral ties. Apart from that investor from both India and Thailand are welcomed in each other nations. Both nations are also working on a renegotiation of a new Bilateral Investment Treaty. South East Asia has immense business opportunities and Thailand can be a forward base for Indian investors in ASEAN.
  • Regional cooperation
    Apart from Act East, Various dialogue platforms Such as RCEP, BIMSTEC, Mekong-Ganga cooperation provides dialogue opportunity where India and Thailand co-operate each other.
  • Cultural cooperation
    India Thailand does have historic ties, specifically through Buddhism, and along with that, there is huge Indian diaspora in Thailand. Also people to people contact further strengthen this Indo Thailand relationship. The People-to-people contacts are strong.
  • Security
    Both Thailand and India are working towards cooperation in the maritime domain including anti-piracy cooperation. There is a negotiation for the White Shipping Agreement between the two countries.
    Apart from that India and Thailand are involved in Joint military exercises and combined counter-terrorism exercise and Cooperating in controlling Narcotics. Both nations are also part of the extradition treaty and recently Jagtar Singh Tara was extradited from Thailand.
  • Multilateral Co-operation
    India and Thailand has time and again reiterated the support for United Nations reform. Apart from that, both nations are working together in the context of climate change and disaster management.

Thailand is very crucial from India’s perspective and there has been significant progress in bilateral ties. There is convergence in India’s Act East and Thailand’s Look West which provides for immense opportunities for co-operation.


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