By Anju Ambawatte
“Thailand and Sri Lanka have plans to triple the trade values between the two countries by the year 2020,” announced Ambassador of Thailand to Sri Lanka Chulamanee Chartsuwan, during a meeting held at the National Chamber of Commerce, on economic relationship, investments and bilateral trade between the two countries.
She further stated that in line with her mission to promote trade and investment in Sri Lanka, initial discussions have already been carried out between the two governments on a memorandum of understanding to enhance partnership and both countries to corporate in order to accomplish common benefits.
When spoken about the development of Thailand, she said that the country has progressed remarkably in social and economic development and had been declared by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income country. Since the economy has maintained a sustainable growth, it expanded by 3.3 percent at the end of the first quarter of this year and the overall growth expansion is expected to be in the rate of 3.3 percent - 3.8 percent at the end of this fiscal year.
On the investment aspect, she stated that by the first quarter of 2017, the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) had approved investment projects amounting to approximately US $ 7 billion, generating a 120 percent growth rate from last year. Additionally, the tourism sector too has strengthened immensely with 10 percent growth in tourism each year, she said.
The ambassador pointed out that all these significant improvements in various sectors have led Thailand to claim the 26th ranking position in the ‘Doing Business’ report released by the World Bank just this month, which is a noteworthy improvement from last year’s ranking of 46.
Sharing her observations for the past four months since she’s been assigned to Sri Lanka, she emphasized on the unique cultural relations between the two countries that would be highly beneficial in building strong economic connections.
She also added that signing the ‘letter of intent’ between Rojana Industrial Estate of Thailand and the BOI, to construct the first-ever industrial zone in Sri Lanka, is undoubtedly an important step taken towards escalating bilateral investments between the two countries.
“This will encourage internationally recognized high-tech companies to visit Sri Lanka in the future,” she said.
In conclusion, she invited all existing and striving business enterprises to participate and visit Thailand trade fairs organised both here in Sri Lanka as well as in Thailand, which will help promote businesses and give exposure to new opportunities.