BANGKOK: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday said Pakistan desired to comprehensively upgrade the already cordial relations with Thailand in all areas of cooperation.
Addressing a joint news conference with his Thai counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra here after talks, Prime Minister Sharif said: “Vision East Asia” was an important component of Pakistan’s policy that complemented Thailand’s “Look West Policy”.
He said Pakistan and Thailand had common cultural linkages through Gandhara Civilization. “Traditionally, our bilateral relations have always been most cordial and Pakistan desires to comprehensively upgrade these relations in all areas of cooperation.”
Nawaz Sharif recalled Prime Minister Shinawatra’s visit to Pakistan in August this year, which he said, provided a new momentum to bilateral ties between the two countries.
Important decisions were taken during the visit to enhance and diversify bilateral cooperation, including establishment of Joint Trade Committee and Joint Business Council, he added.
He said today he had comprehensive discussions with Prime Minister Shinawatra on a full range of issues, which covered wide areas, including collaboration in trade and investment, infrastructure development, science and technology, defence, education, and tourism.
“Regional as well as international issues of mutual interest also came under discussions. We are satisfied with the progress made in various domains of relationship and have agreed to further consolidate and expand this partnership for the mutual benefit of our two peoples,” he added.
The Prime Minister said, “Economic and trade relations are a high priority on our agenda.” Pakistan and Thailand have important economic complementarities, particularly vast domestic and extended neighbourhood markets and unique geographical locations to build a strong economic partnership, he added.
He said bilateral trade had already crossed one billion dollar mark and efforts would be made to double the figure in next five years.
The Prime Minister said the growth in investment between Thailand and Pakistan had been steady in the past few years.
Pakistan, he said, offered attractive investment opportunities. “We have invited Thai private businesses to invest in Pakistan, in various sectors, including infrastructure development, energy, auto parts manufacturing, food processing, packaging, germs and jewellery as well as tourism industry.”
The Government of Pakistan will extend all facilities to Thai investors, he added.
Prime Minister Sharif said greater connectivity between the two countries would, however, be critical to facilitate trade and investment. “To this end, we believe that Pakistan and Thailand would utilize each other’s geo-strategic locations,” he added.
He emphasized the importance of people-to-people contacts as one of the most important aspects of bilateral relations and said the number of Pakistani tourists visiting Thailand was increasing steadily.
“We hope people of Thailand would also visit Pakistan, to get an insight into the ancient Gandhara Civilization, which is a bedrock of their faith and spiritualism.”
The two sides, the Prime Minister said, had also agreed on the need to enhance and deepen cooperation in the regional and multilateral frameworks.
He said Pakistan appreciated Thailand’s consistent support for its enhanced partnership with ASEAN.
The Prime Minister said he was confident that his visit to Thailand would further consolidate bilateral relations and pave the way for development and prosperity of the two countries.
He said he was pleased to be in Bangkok to attend the Connect Asia Pacific Summit and to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Shinawatra.
He congratulated Prime Minister Shinawatra for the successful outcome of the summit and said he was grateful to her and the people of Thailand for the warm and generous hospitality, extended to him and his delegation.
The Thai Prime Minister said her country wanted to promote trade and investment links with Pakistan.
She said Thai private companies would make investment in Pakistan’s energy sector. She also appreciated Pakistan’s contribution to Connect Asia Pacific Summit.