Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan was keen to move towards a Free Trade Agreement withThailand and stressed focussed talks for increased bilateral trade between the two countries. Talking to Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, here on the margins of the World Economic Forum meeting, Gilani said the trade between the two countries was increasing progressively and had touched US one billion dollars. He said there was a huge potential to increase it further. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar briefing media persons, said Pakistan and Thailand had agreed to initiate a process towards an FTA in 2005. She said Thailand was keen to move forward and said the two sides agreed on activating the Joint Economic Commission at the earliest. She said the meeting of the JEC that has not been held for a long time now, would cover economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries and encourage business-to-business partnership. She said the Prime Minister was also appreciative of Thailand’s consistent support to Pakistan’s Full Dialogue Partnership with the ASEAN, which would be of mutual benefit for both the countries. The Thai Prime Minister expressed strong support for the efforts to strengthen trade and economic cooperation and in this regard stressed the importance of optimally utilizing the existing mechanisms. She also underlined potential of the proposed new institutional frameworks like Joint Trade Committee (JTC) and Joint Business Council (JBC) in deepening and broadening bilateral economic ties. Prime Minister Gilani stressed there was a need to build a partnership of mutual benefit and recalled that the two countries marked 60 years of establishment of their diplomatic ties in 2011. Gilani said on the civilizational journey the two countries have been together for over 2000 years. He said Pakistan has proudly preserved and promoted the Gandhara heritage that forms a bond between the two countries and peoples, and hoped that this cultural connection will always be a central pillar of their relationship. The Prime Minister called for transforming this cordial relationship into a strong partnership of mutual benefit in all areas of common interest. He said Pakistan and Thailand share similar views on a broad range of issues related to peace, development and security and added that the ties between the two countries have further strengthened due to Pakistan’s “Vision East Asia” policy. He stressed increased trade and commercial collaboration. Prime Minister Gilani said through intensified mutual collaboration, both the countries can advance shared objectives like regional connectivity and trans-regional development cooperation. The Prime Minister said that the people of Pakistan and the government were looking forward to welcome Princess Maja von Hohenzollern, at the invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari. Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan is an investment destination and offers the most attractive and liberal investment policy. He said several areas in Pakistan offer good potential for Thai businessmen to invest in Pakistan, including gems and jewellery, textile and agro-based industries. Pakistan and Thailand have a rich potential to expand trade and have the scope to cooperate in production of automobile parts and machineries, dairy and livestock sector, canning industry for seafood, textile garments, made-ups, bed wears, towels, hosieries and fabrics, processing of meat and poultry for exports, tourism related services, infrastructure requirement to support massive growth, power sector and oil and gas exploration. In 2010, the volume of bilateral trade touched US $ 915 million; textile, yarn, seafood, leather, chemical product, and medical equipment accounting for Pakistan’s major exports to Thailand, and motorcars, chemical product, plastic, air conditioner and parts, synthetic textile, rubber product, refrigerator and cloth accounting for Thai export to Pakistan. Prime Minister Gilani congratulated the Prime Minister of Thailand for being the first woman premier of her country.
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