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Indo Thai Relations — Seven Decades of Economic Harmony

Indo Thai Relations — Seven Decades of Economic Harmony

Indo Thai Relations — Seven Decades of Economic Harmony

India and Thailand have been age-old partners with a common interest and shared vision toward the growth and development of Asian nations.

The history of shared language, religion, and culture has played a pivotal role in Indo Thai interactions.

Seven Decades of Economic Harmony


The fast-evolving Indo Thai camaraderie has facilitated a broader scope for more dynamic and sustainable economic development. It has also played a notable role in promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asian region.

In 1996, New Delhi’s “Look East Policy” and Bangkok’s “Look West Policy” coincided. It bolstered the economic and trade relations between the two countries.

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Here we look at the evolution of the past seven decades of the Indo Thai alliance:

India and Thailand Relations under the Ambit of ASEAN

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) framework provided the right platform for expanding Indo Thai relations.

Thailand is the second-largest ASEAN economy and has significantly contributed to India’s vision of economic, social, and political association within the ASEAN realm.

Relations under the Ambit of ASEAN


The development of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project with extension to Laos and Cambodia encouraged and promoted the physical and economic connectivity of the ASEAN Highway Network with the highway system of eastern India.

The fast-growing Indian market continues to remain an attractive destination for Thai investors. There is a big demand for Thai goods among Indians.

Early Harvest Scheme (EHS), covering 83 products and different FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) since 2004, marked a phenomenal growth in the Indo Thai bilateral trade.

India and Thailand Relation with the BIMSTEC Angle

Thailand played a pivotal role in establishing the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) initiative to build and develop the economic ties of South East and South Asia with the Bay of Bengal at the geographical epicentre.



BIMSTEC comprises Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. A Free Trade Agreement negotiated between the members of BIMSTEC added a new and improved dimension to India’s “Look East” policy.

Indian and Thailand Diasporic Relations

A diaspora emerges from a growing consciousness towards distinct ethnicity, shared history, and a belief in the development of common fortune intricately connected to their motherland.

The Indian migration to Thailand has been voluntary. The Indian diaspora in Thailand is currently estimated to be around 250,000 who have been living in Thailand for several generations.

Indian Diaspora in Thailand


The Indian diaspora has immensely contributed to strengthening the national economy of Thailand. They have contributed widely, from Thai tourism to skilled labour in hospitality, textiles, and big-ticket industrial investments.

The Indian diaspora in Thailand is a small but crucial economic community. They have contributed extensively to the Indo Thai economic integration.

Some Significant Direct Economic Contributions of the Indian Diaspora

Indian diaspora bolstered the establishment of the Northeastern Development Finance Corporation (NDFC), an MoU that aims to bring India’s North-eastern Region closer to Thailand.

Thai students travelling to India is estimated to be 25,000 annually. It is pertinent to note  that this influx leads to an increase in the inflow of foreign currency in India and helps strengthen the Indian education system.

Some Significant Direct Economic Contributions of the Indian Diaspora

PC: CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

India and Thailand have displayed a robust bond even during tough times. In 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the bilateral trade between India and Thailand reached up to US $9.76 billion.

With the increased interest and prospering Indo Thai bond, the Thai Indians have great potential to facilitate the much-needed stimulus for a positive Indo Thai economic, social, and political endeavour.

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