India-Thailand Relations. India-Thailand Relations.

India-Thailand Relations.

Brief on India - Thailand Relations

India and Thailand share a maritime boundary in the Andaman Sea. India’s bilateral relations with Thailand are rooted in history, age-old social and cultural interactions and extensive people to people contacts. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1947. In 2022, India and Thailand are celebrating the 75th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations.

2.Thailand, which aspires to be a regional hub given its central location in South East Asia, initiated a 'Look West' policy in 1997. This seeks to accord priority to strengthening relations with South Asia and beyond. The 'Look West' policy of Thailand complements India's 'Look East' policy, which is now elevated to ‘Act East’ policy and has provided the basis for a substantive elevation of bilateral relations. Thailand also launched its ‘Act West’ policy in 2016.

3..Thailand plays an important role in various regional and sub-regional groupings. It is, therefore, an important partner for India in the India-ASEAN Summit Level Partnership, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS). Thailand was the Country Coordinator for India-ASEAN Dialogue Relations from August 2018 to August 2021 (3 years) and it handed over this role to Singapore in August 2021. Thailand assumed the BIMSTEC Chairmanship in March 2022 for a period of 2 years.

High Level Exchanges

4.High level visits and meetings have taken palce on a regular basis between both the sides. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi accompanied by Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister (EAM) and Shri Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industries Minister (CIM) visited Thailand from 2-4 November 2019 to attend ASEAN related Summits (16th ASEAN India Summit, 14th East Asia Summit, the 3rd RCEP Summit and related events). PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha on 3 November. During the visit, PM Modi addressed a community event “Sawadee Modi” on 2 November, which was attended by around 5000 persons of Indian community. Prime Minister released a special commemorative coin to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the Thai language translation of Tamil book, Thirukkural. Earlier in June 2019, PM Modi and Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha had met on the sidelines of G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. They had also met thrice in 2018: on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Singapore on 14 November 2018, on the margins of the 4th BIMSTEC Summit in Kathmandu on 31 August 2018 and on the occasion when Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha visited Delhi from 24-26 January 2018 for the India-ASEAN Special Commemorative Summit and as a Guest of Honour for the Republic Day Parade 2018 along with other ASEAN leaders. On 10 November 2016, PM Modi visited Bangkok to pay tributes to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thai PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Industry Minister and Culture Minister paid a state visit to India from 16-18 June 2016.

5.During 2001 to 2009, India and Thailand had a regular annual exchange of PM-level visits, except in 2006, due to uncertainties caused by Thailand’s internal situation. These visits included (i) State visit by PM Thaksin Shinawatra to India (November 2001); (ii) visit of PM Thaksin Shinawatra to India (February 2002); (iii) transit visit by PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Thailand (November 2002); (iv) visit of PM Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Thailand (October 2003); (v) visit of PM Dr. Manmohan Singh for 1st BIMSTEC Summit (July 2004); (vi) visit of PM Thaksin Shinawatra to India (June 2005); (vii) State visit of PM Surayud Chulanont to India (June 2007); (vii) visit of PM Somchai Wongsawat for 2nd BIMSTEC Summit (November 2008); and (viii) Visit of PM Dr. Manmohan Singh to Thailand (October 2009).

6.Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha on 1 May 2020, a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The two leaders exchanged views on effectively dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed upon collaboration for Research and Development in the field of medical sciences and vaccine development. In August 2022, the two sides signed an MoU in this regard.

7.Former Vice President, Shri M. Hamid Ansari, accompanied by a high level delegation, paid an official visit to Thailand from 3-5 February 2016. The Vice President had an audience with Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and held extensive bilateral discussions with Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha. The Vice President delivered an address at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, interacted with academicians/Indologists and addressed the Indian community in Thailand.

8.HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, is a regular visitor to India (20 visits). Her last visit to India was in February 2020. She is a member of the International Advisory Panel of Nalanda University and recipient of Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace (2004), Padma Bhushan (2017), World Sanskrit Award (2016). She had visited India in March 2017 to receive Padma Bhushan from the President of India. She was awarded the first World Sanskrit Award by the Vice President of India in November 2016.

9.EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Bangkok from 16-18 August 2022 to co-chair the 9th Meeting of India-Thailand Joint Commission (JCM) with Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand on 17 August 2022. During the visit, EAM paid a courtesy call on Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand on 17 August 2022. EAM’s other engagements included: interaction with the Indian Community on 16 August 2022; joint inauguration of the newly constructed Embassy Residence and Residential Complex, along with Deputy PM and FM of Thailand; and a public talk on “India’s Vision of the Indo-Pacific” at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University on 18 August 2022. Earlier, since the outbreak of the pandemic, EAM had had five interactions/meetings with Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Thailand. Three of these were telephonic conversations on 1 May 2021, 23 July 2021 and on 21 March 2022 and the two physical meetings were held on the sidelines of 76th UNGA on 25 September 2021 in New York and on the margins of BIMISTEC Ministerial on 28 March 2022 in Colombo. Their discussions focussed on COVID-19 related cooperation, including vaccine cooperation, global and regional issues, and taking forward the BIMSTEC agenda. EAM had earlier visited Thailand from 1-3 August 2019 for attending the ASEAN related Foreign Ministers’ meetings. In 2020, EAM and Foreign Minister of Thailand jointly inaugurated the 6th Round Table of ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks in the month of August.

10.Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and Education visited Thailand from 29-31 July 2022 to attend the 2nd edition of North-East India Festival. During the visit, he held a bilateral meeting with the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Mr. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, on 29 July 2022. Both sides discussed wide ranging issues of mutual interest, including cooperation in political, commercial, defence, security, cultural and education matters, as well as the commemorative activities being organized by both sides to celebrate 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

11.Shri Piyush Goyal, CIM visited Thailand from 8-10 September 2019 to attend the 51st ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and other related meetings. CIM had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of Thailand on 10 September 2019. Both the leaders also co-chaired 16th India-ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting. CIM again visited Thailand from 11-12 October 2019 to attend the RCEP Intersession Ministerial Meeting. Mr. Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of Thailand visited Mumbai and Chennai from 24-28 September 2019. He again visited Bengaluru and Hyderabad from 17-20 January 2020 to expand trade opportunities and boost export.

12.Smt. Anupriya Singh Patel, MoS (C&I), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, visited Bangkok, Thailand, from 22-24 May 2022 to attend the 78th Commission Session of UNESCAP. On the sidelines of the Commission session, she held meetings with Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of UNGA and Ms. Armida Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary, UNESCAP and discussed issues of mutual interest. Ms. Meenakashi Lekhi, Minister of State for Culture and Minister of State for External Affairs held a virtual meeting with Mr. Ittiphol Kunplome, Minister of Culture of Thailand on 27 December 2021 to discuss cultural cooperation between India and Thailand.

13.Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh visited Bangkok from 16-18 November 2019 to attend the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus [ADMM-Plus] and opening ceremony of Defence and Security 2019 Exhibition. Raksha Mantri had bilateral meetings with General Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand on the sidelines of 6th ADMM-Plus. Raksha Mantri also called on Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha on 18 November 2019 and discussed bilateral issues.

14.Former Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Grisada Boonrach visited India on 30 May 2019 as Special Envoy of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Council of Ministers of the Government of India.

15.Smt. Sushma Swaraj, former EAM, met Thai FM Don Pramudwinai in New Delhi during his visit to India on 30 November 2018. Both the leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral issues. Both sides agreed to work closely to further strengthen India-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. Former EAM Smt. Sushma Swaraj visited Bangkok on 04-05 January 2018 for having discussions with Thai FM Don Pramudwinai.

16.Shri. M.J. Akbar, the then Minister of State for External Affairs, visited Bangkok from 26-27 October 2017 for the royal cremation ceremonies of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), the Great.

17.Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, the then Defence Minister, visited Bangkok from 26-29 August 2018. She held delegation level talks with Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister and then Defence Minister of Thailand. She also called on Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha.

18.Shri Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA) visited Thailand on 1-2 April 2015. He called on Thai PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy PM & Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy PM & Foreign Minister Gen. Tanasak Patimapragorn and met Mr. Anusit Kunakorn, Secretary General of the National Security Council of Thailand. NSA again visited Thailand on 21 March 2019 for the 3rd Meeting of BIMSTEC Security Chiefs. Air Chief Marshal B. S. Dhanoa visited Thailand from 26-27 August 2019 to attend the Annual Chiefs of Defence Conference 2019. Adm. Luechai Ruddit, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Navy visited India from 18-20 December 2018.

19.Ms. Pornpimol Kanchanalak, Advisor to Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand visited India to attend the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Minister Meeting (SAIFMM) as Special Envoy of DPM/FM Don on 16 June 2022 in New Delhi. During the visit, she attended a joint call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and had bilateral meetings with EAM and Secretary (East). She also attended Delhi Dialogue XII on 16 June 2022.

Recent Events & Activities

20.The second edition of the North-East India Festival was organized from 29-31 July 2022 in Bangkok. Mr. Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Commerce, Government of Thailand and Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, jointly inaugurated the Festival on 30 July 2022 in the presence of Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Nagaland, Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and other Ministers and senior officials from the North Eastern states of India. During the festival, seminars on trade & tourism and people to people exchanges were held. A large contingent of around 400 artists, craftsmen, businessmen, exhibitors, tour operators and academics from North Eastern states of India participated in the Festival.

21.The Embassy in association with Triratnabhoomi Society of Thailand organized an exposition under the theme of ‘Buddhabhoomi: Journey along the Footsteps of Buddha’ from 26-28 August 2022 in Bangkok. Ms. Usha Thakur, Tourism Minister of Madhya Pradesh visited Thailand to attend the event.

22.Ambassadors of India, Australia, Japan & the Cd'A of the US in Thailand jointly presented 200,000 doses of Made in India Covovax vaccines to Thailand under the Quad Vaccine Partnership on 21 April 2022. This was in fulfilment of the commitment made by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC in September 2021 to donate 500,000 doses of COVID vaccines to countries in the Indo-Pacific region under the Quad Vaccine Partnership.

23.The celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ was launched in Thailand on 12 March 2021 with the release of Thai language translation of the Constitution of India by Mr. Chuan Leekpai, President of the National Assembly and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Thailand.

24.Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Smt. Suchitra Durai, Ambassador of India to Thailand jointly presided over the logo unveiling ceremony on 21 March 2022 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of India-Thailand diplomatic relations. The logo design contest was launched in January 2022 in collaboration with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bilateral Institutional Mechanisms

25. Joint Commission Meeting (JCM): The 9th round of JCM was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 16-17 August 2022. External Affairs Minister of India (EAM) and Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand (DPM/FM) Mr. Don Pramudwinai co-chaired the JCM on 17 August. The JCM was preceded by Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held on 16 August 2022. The entire gamut of bilateral relations was reviewed during these meetings and two MoUs, namely, (i) MoU on Health and Medical Research Cooperation between Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India and Department of Medical Sciences (DMS), Thailand; and (ii) MoU for Cooperation & Collaboration on Broadcasting between Prasar Bharti, India and Thai Public Broadcasting Service of Thailand were signed. Previously, the 8th JCM was held in New Delhi in October 2019, the 7th JCM was held in Bangkok in June 2015, the 6th JCM was held in New Delhi in December 2011 and 5th JCM was held in September 2007 in Bangkok.

26. Foreign Office Consultations (FOC): The 6th round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Thailand, co-chaired by Secretary (East), Shri Saurabh Kumar and Thai Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, were held on 21 April 2022 in New Delhi. Both sides discussed bilateral, regional & global issues including post COVID-19 recovery. The Thai delegation also called on Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs on 21 April 2022. The 5th FOCs were held in Bangkok in March 2019 in Bangkok.

27. Joint Task Force (JTF) on Maritime Cooperation: 4th Meeting of Joint Task Force (JTF) on Maritime Cooperation between India and Thailand was held on 17 February 2021 in virtual mode. The meeting was co-chaired by Shri Pankaj Saran, Deputy NSA (Strategic Affairs), National Security Council Secretariat of India and Prof. Padermsak Jarayabhand, Adviser to the Thai National Security Council of Thailand. The Meeting of Joint Task Force (JTF) on Legal and Judicial Cooperation between India and Thailand was also held on 17 February 2021 in virtual mode.

Defence Cooperation

28.The MoU on Defence Cooperation between India and Thailand was signed on 25 January 2012. Bilateral exercises are held annually between the armed forces of both countries. The ongoing defence cooperation initiatives comprises of bi-annual joint maritime patrolling by the navies of both countries, annual staff talks, subject matter expert exchange visits and training of officers at each other’s institutions, trilateral/multilateral military exercises etc.

Economic & Commercial Partnership

Bilateral Trade

29.Thailand views India as the gateway to South Asia and beyond. As a result of the reduced tariff rates and new initiatives adopted by both the countries, trade between two countries increased manifold in recent years. In 2020, despite the pandemic situation, the trade figures stood at US$ 9.76 billion. In 2021, it reached a record high of around US$ 15 billion. Trade figures between the two countries in last few years are as under:

(amount in billion USD)

Year

Total trade

Thai Export to India

Thai Import from India

Year

Total trade

Thai Export to India

Thai Import from India

2017

10.39

6.49

3.90

2017-18

10.78

7.13

3.65

2018

12.46

7.60

4.86

2018-19

11.88

7.44

4.44

2019

12.12

7.30

4.82

2019-20

11.08

6.78

4.29

2020

9.76

5.48

4.28

2020-21

9.91

5.68

4.23

2021

14.94

8.53

6.40

2021-22

15.08

9.33

5.74

(Source: Ministry of Commerce of Thailand)                                                                (Source: Department of Commerce, India)

30.Major Indian companies in Thailand includes the Tata group – Tata Steel Thailand, and Tata Consultancy Services, Aditya Birla Group, Tech Mahindra, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd., L&T, Bajaj Auto, NRB Bearing, Ranbaxy, Camper Pharmaceuticals Coforge Ltd, Usha Siam Steel Industries PLC, KEC International, Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd., Desmond International, Apollo Tyres, Rajasthan Thai Wire, Dee Piping Systems, DT Wiring Systems, Growel Chemical, Monte Big Drum, Kings Food & Beverage, Triveni Turbines DMCC, SRF Industries Thailand Ltd, Polyplex (Thailand). Public Co. Ltd, Atlantic Food Co. Ltd. and others.

31.Leading Thai companies in the fields of agro-processing, construction, automotive, engineering and banking have active and growing business presence in India. Major Thai companies active in India are – Charoen Pokphand Group, Italian Thai Development PCL, The Thai Union Frozen Products PCL, Thai Summit Neel Auto Pvt. Ltd., Delta Electronics (Thailand) PCL, Srithai Superware PCL (Melamine tableware manufacturing), Siam Makro PCL, Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited, Dusit Group of Hotels, Vee Rubber Corporation Co., Ltd, Allied Metals(Thailand) Co., Ltd., Tong Garden Food Marketing Pvt. Ltd., Rockworth PCL, Ltd, SCG International, Pranda Jewelry Pvt. Ltd., Krung Thai Bank PCL., and Dutch Mill Thailand. Global Renewable Synergy Co (GRSC), the renewable energy arm of Global Power Synergy Co. (GPSC), owned by Thailand’s national oil and gas conglomerate PTT Group, has acquired 42% stake in Avaada Energy Private co., India by investing approximate USD 450 million in July 2021. SCG international has invested in the field of concrete blocks and panels in India recently.

32.MoUs between Port Authority of Thailand and Navayuga Container Terminal (Krishnapatnam Port), Kolkata Port Trust, Chennai Port Trust and Visakhapatnam Port Trust were signed in 2019.

Connectivity

33.Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand was directly connected with 17 Indian cities with approximately 300 weekly flights with seasonal variation. Around 1.9 million Indian tourists visited Thailand in 2019. The number of Thai tourists to India was close to 160,000 (mainly to Buddhist pilgrimage sites). All major airlines of India operate between the two countries: Air India, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, IndiGo, Vistara and Spicejet.According to Tourism Authority of Thailand, Indians became the largest group of tourists to Thailand during the first half of year 2022.

Cultural Cooperation

34.An Indian Cultural Centre was opened in Bangkok in September 2009 [it has since been renamed as the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre]. Cultural Exchange Programme for 2016-19 was signed during the visit of Thai PM to India in June 2016. A revised Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2022-27 has been finalized for signing. A good number of India Studies Centers are operational in prestigious Thai Universities. Regular visits of Indian cultural troupes to Thailand are organized, in addition to Indian films, food and other festivals. The Embassy of India in Bangkok, in collaboration with Ministry of Culture and several local partners organized the Festival of India in Thailand in March 2014, the 2nd edition in February-May 2015 and then from July 2017 to March 2018 to mark 70 years of establishment of India-Thailand diplomatic relations. The festival included Indian classical dances, food festivals, art and painting exhibitions, literary festival and seminars, etc. Currently, several commemorative events are being organized to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as well as to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence under the theme of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”. 

35.In the years 2020 and 2021, International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated in the Embassy premises in a hybrid mode due to the COVID-19 situation. In 2022, the 8th International Day of Yoga was celebrated at Srinakharinwirot University grounds in Bangkok on 19 June 2022. More than 600 yoga enthusiasts from all walks of life participated in the mass yoga session. Mr. Chadchart Sittipunt, the Governor of Bangkok, was the Chief Guest at the event. Another important yoga event was orgainsed at Wat Mahathat Historical Park, Ayutthaya, as part of “The Guardian Ring For Yoga” on 21 June 2022. Apart from Bangkok and Ayuthaya, IDY celebrations were held in Hatyai, Phuket, Rayong, Chiang Mai, Rayong, Songkhla and Ubon Ratchathani.

Cooperation in the field of Education

36.MoU on Cooperation in the field of Education was signed in 2005. India offers 74 scholarships annually under various schemes (ITEC – 40, ICCR scholarships – 29 and Hindi scholarships – 5) to Thailand. India has also offered 1,000 Ph.D. fellowships at the IITs to ASEAN countries, including 100 slots to Thailand. Currently, there are 5 Indian Studies Centres in Thailand at Silpakorn University, Mahidol University, Chiang Mai University, Thammasat University and Chulalongkorn University. In addition to these India Studies Centres, 9 India Corners have been set up in various Thai Universities/institutions i.e. Chiang Mai University, Chulalongkorn University, Ubon Ratchathani University, Pridi Banomyoung International College, Prince of Songkhla University, Mae Fah Luang University, Surat Thani Rajabhat University, Srinakharinwirot University and National Library of Thailand. Ubon Ratchathani University has an India Studies Group.

37.Recipients of Padma Awards: HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn received the Padma Bhushan in 2017 and HH Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakhatayan, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, who is an alumnus of BHU, received the Padma Shri in 2018. Recently, on 28 March 2022, Dr. Chirapat Prapandvidya received the Padma Shri under the category of ‘Literature and Education’.

Indian Diaspora in Thailand

38.The total number of people of Indian origin in Thailand is estimated to be around 125,000 and around 25,000 NRIs, majority of whom are concentrated in Bangkok. The community comprises mainly of Punjabi Hindus, Namdhari and other Sikh sects, Gorakhpuris, Malayalis, Tamils, Gujaratis, Marwaris, and Sindhis; however, other linguistic and regional groups are also well represented.

Embassy & Consulate

39.Besides the Embassy in Bangkok, India has a Consulate in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Thailand has 3 Consulates in India in the cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, besides its Embassy in New Delhi.

Useful Resources

Embassy of India, Bangkok Website: https://www.embassyofindiabangkok.gov.in

Facebook:IndianEmbassyThailand: https://www.facebook.com/IndianEmbassyThailand/

Twitter: @IndiainThailand: https://twitter.com/IndiainThailand

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September 2022