The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha and his wife Naraporn Chan-o-cha arrived in the country on Thursday on a two-day visit to discuss on the bilateral relationship and a wide range of cooperation to further strengthen the ties between the two nations.
The visiting Prime Minster was welcomed in the traditional chibdral ceremony at the Trashichhodzong on the day of their arrival where His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen granted an audience and later hosted a lunch at the Dechenchholing palace.
After that His Excellency Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha engaged in the inauguration of the Royal Thai Honorary Consulate-General in the new location at the Royal Textile Academy.
Later, towards the evening, Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay and the Prime Minister of Thailand met at the National Assembly hall where they held wide ranging discussions on bilateral relations as well as cooperation in the regional and international forums like United Nations, Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) and Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ADC).
The One Gewog One Product development project between the Queen’s Project Office of Bhutan and Thailand International Cooperation Agency has benefitted 400 families of 80 gewogs. The Prime Minister of Thailand has expressed that both sides could discuss a community development model based on Gross National Happiness and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Lyonchhen also commended and congratulated Thailand for the successful rescue operation of all the 13 individuals trapped in the flooded Tham Luang cave and said that the collective effort from the people of Thailand and the prayers and support showered by the people from around the globe was very inspiring.
Lyonchhen Dasho Tshering Tobgay expressed the grief felt by Bhutanese people by the passing of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej and also thanked the Royal Thai Government for courtesies extended to His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, and His Royal Highness The Gyalsey during the Royal Cremation of His Majesty the Late King.
Lyonchhen also thanked the Thai government for the continued support and assistance to Bhutan in the priority areas of Bhutan’s socio-economic development such as engineering, economics, public health, education, management and agriculture.
The Prime Minister of Thailand also expressed his gratitude to the government of Bhutan for the successful visit of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to Bhutan in 2016. He also affirmed that Thailand will provide more opportunities for human resources and skills development for the Bhutanese.
It has also been learnt that talks on technical cooperation in various sectors like education, health, agriculture, science and technology were carried out. The two countries have agreed to work together through existing mechanisms such as Annual Bilateral Consultations, the Joint Trade Committee (JTC) and the Joint Agriculture Working Group to explore ways and means to boost trade and investment, according to the foreign ministry.
“With its potential in tourism and construction, Bhutan welcomed increasing investment in its country by the Thai private sector, particularly in hotels and construction, and promised to take care and provide convenience for Thai investors,” as quoted by the Prime Minister of Thailand’s deputy spokesperson in the daily, Bangkok Post.
“Both leaders acknowledged the importance to explore investment opportunities between the two countries for mutual benefits. They recognized Bhutan’s construction and hospitality sectors as potential areas for Thai investment and noted with satisfaction the recent developments regarding the Thai investment in the hotel industry in Bhutan. They were also satisfied with the close cooperation between the Board of Investment of Thailand and the Department of Industry, Ministry of Economic Affairs Bhutan,” stated a joint press release from the foreign ministry.
The two leaders also encouraged the authorities concerned to work together on tourism promotion under the theme “Two Kingdoms, One Destination” through joint marketing, package tours, and promotion of Buddhist tourism. The two countries have also agreed to finalize the pending MoUs on a mutually agreed timeframe.
“The two Prime Ministers noted that the year 2019 would mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and agreed to commemorate the occasion in a befitting manner in both Thailand and Bhutan. To celebrate the occasion, the Prime Minister of Thailand proposed to support the implementation of the Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat (EENT) care service project, including establishment of ear, nose and throat (ENT) center in Bhutan in order to treat patients and build the capacity of Bhutanese medical personnel to which Lyonchhen welcomed and expressed appreciation to the proposal,” read the joint press release.
Thailand is Bhutan’s second-top import supplier, accounting for US$24 million (Bt800 million) of Bhutan’s total imports worth $455 million. The major goods imported from Thailand include heavy machineries and parts, passenger cars, IT equipment, polyethylene among others. At the moment Bhutan’s exports to Thailand contradict the imports from Thailand with only Nu 40.60 million worth of goods being exported. Exports to Thailand include Cordyceps sinensis, prefabricated buildings, and statues among others.
Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha and the Thai delegation were in the country at the invitation of the Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay. The visit was in keeping with the tradition of regular exchange of high-level visits between Bhutan and Thailand. The two countries enjoy cordial relationship since the establishment of diplomatic ties on November 1989.