Thailand eyeing Northeast with interest—Thai diplomat
Mokokchung, Sep. 6 (EMN): Thirapath Mangkolnavin, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Royal Thai Embassy, New Delhi on Friday asserted that India’s gateway to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) begins with the Northeast region.
Mangkolnavin, while addressing the silver jubilee event of Nagaland University, Lumami as a guest of honour, said similar to India’s Act East Policy, the Thai government has also announced its ‘Look West Policy’ in 1997 to strengthen the existing bilateral relations with regions beyond Southeast Asia.
In this connection, he said, Thailand has placed particular importance and interest on the cooperation with the Northeast states ranging from road connectivity, forest resource management, biodiversity, to people-to-people exchange due to its (NE region) geostrategic location.
The Thai diplomat also reminded that an MoU was inked between Nagaland University and Chiang Mai University, Thailand in 2016 with a vision to undertake collaborative research programmes in the field of biodiversity management and cultural diversity for sustainable development, besides student and faculty exchange and other initiatives.
He also added that the person behind the MoU between the two universities was ‘Her Royal Highness’ Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who suggested initiating an exchange programme between Nagaland and Thailand, and to work together in different fields during her maiden visit to Nagaland in February 2014.
The diplomat also asserted that for Thailand’s national planning, connectivity remains at the heart of its economic policy.
He said that the establishment of a robust line of soft and hard connectivity from India’s north-eastern region into South Asia has received further impetus under the Act East Policy.
Currently, both the nations are cooperating closely on improving regional connectivity through initiation such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH) that traverses from Nagaland to Moreh in Manipur to Maesot in Thailand through Myanmar, he said.
Besides, cooperation also exists in connectivity initiation in Asian Highway Network under United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), he informed.
Mangkolnavin also expressed hope that once the connectivity lines are operationalised, it would link the three countries with Southeast Asia by land and would help boost trade.
Highlighting the confidence of the Thai government and its investors in the Indian market, the diplomat said 32 Thai companies have registered in India with an investment USD 1 billion as of this year.
In this connection, Mangkolnavin asserted that Thailand is aware of Nagaland’s rich and abundant assets and resources in the form of its young people who are inquisitive, energetic and brimming with life.
“Northeast offers an opportunity for India to better integrate into ASEAN’s supply chain and hope that the capable young talents of Nagaland will rise up to meet the demands of the expanding global market as Indo-Thai, and Thailand and Nagaland grow closer,” he said.