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Thailand wants BD to benefit from its trilateral highway with India, Myanmar

Chalermpol Thanchitt, Special Envoy of the Thai Foreign Minister, said Bangladesh would be able to make use of this route by creating “an access point” between this proposed highway and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, reports

He said this would be the “most effective” land route to be connected with Thailand.

The special envoy, who was a former ambassador in Bangladesh before retiring, was speaking on the closing day of the three-day ‘Bangladesh Trade and Investment Expo’ at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok on Thursday.

Bangladesh presented its manufacturing capabilities particularly on pharmaceuticals and ready-made clothes in this first-ever expo to lure Thai businesses.

Thanchitt talked on Thailand-Bangladesh relations from the ‘greater connectivity and sustainability’ point of view.

He said both countries were “advantageously” situated and the full extent of this economic cooperation would only be made possible by enhancing connectivity.

“Thailand is strategically positioned at the heart of the ASEAN Economic Community, occupying a key position that is crisscrossed by the most important maritime and land routes in Southeast Asia.

“Similarly, Bangladesh is a member of SAARC and also one of Asia’s vital seafaring hubs, and the crucial connecting point of land and sea between South Asia and Southeast Asia.

“Currently, there are many promising plans and projects that will allow our two countries and regions to be thoroughly linked up,” he said.

Thailand is “actively” instituting its ‘Look West Policy’ which is a means of seeking out and forging closer ties with new markets in South Asia, including Bangladesh.

He said the Thai private sector has already begun to take advantage of these factors as shown by the presence of many major Thai businesses now operating in Bangladesh.

The bilateral trade between the two countries in 2015 was around $903 million, while Thai investment in Bangladesh has amounted to around $600 million, he said, adding that Bangladesh at present was “one of the most attractive places” to invest in.

The prospects of sea connectivity look “equally exciting”, he said, adding that Thailand is currently developing Ranong Port, which will be equipped with facilities for the docking of large container ships.

This is with a view to promoting the port as a gateway to and from BIMSTEC countries along the Bay of Bengal.

Thailand is also a founding partner in the Dawei Deep Sea Port Project which will revolutionise shipping and maritime routes in Southeast Asia.

Bangladesh has Mongla and Chittagong ports that can be connected via coastal shipping routes to Thailand’s port projects, the Special Envoy said.

“Putting these land and maritime routes between Thailand and Bangladesh to good use will lead to greater speed and considerable cost cutting for our business sectors and bilateral trade,” he said.

Both countries can serve “as each other’s gateway to our respective region.”

“Culturally, our two nations share a common cultural substratum that began more than two millenniums ago.

“This, coupled with our excellent diplomatic relations, has, to a great extent, helped foster economic bonds between our two nations,” he said.

“However, economic growth will be only an unviable proposition if it is does not occur within the framework of sustainable development”.

The Special Envoy said based on the political will showed in the Bangladesh expo, both sides must work to put words into action and join hands in creating “a new chapter of our relations for mutual growth and prosperity”.

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