CHIANGRAI TIMES – Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Friday, March 23 welcomed her Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, who was here on a three-day official visit to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries.
After an official welcoming ceremony at Government House, Ms Yingluck and Mr Harper held talks and hailed the strong bilateral relations between the two countries which this year marked their 50th anniversary.
The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues including the prospect of expanded bilateral cooperation in various fields such as trade and investment promotion.
Yingluck said Thailand wants to increase its export value to Canada, particularly in regard to frozen seafood, rice, fruits and beans, rubber and rubber products, electronics parts and gems.
Thailand and Canada expect to begin negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA), which could be a major mechanism to expand trade between the two countries.
The kingdom also wants to invite Canadian business investment in Thailand in electronics, machinery, automobile production, and information technology as well as clean technology, environmental protection and biotechnology, she said.
PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) has invested in a Canadian oil sands project. Yingluck asked the Canadian government to support the operations of Thai firms in Canada.
Thailand and Canada also agreed to boost cooperation in terms of technology, science and innovation to raise competitiveness in areas such as food science technology development; to utilize space and satellite technology to help monitor and issue warnings in case of natural disasters; and to help the tourism industry by facilitating visa application procedures.
“Harper’s official visit not only commemorates the 50th anniversary of Thai-Canadian diplomatic relations, but reaffirms the long-lasting and cordial relations between the two countries,” Yingluck said.
Thailand, as the country coordinator of ASEAN-Canada relations during 2009-2012, will also take this opportunity to highlight the auspicious occasion of the 35th Anniversary of ASEAN-Canada dialogue relations this year.
The Thailand visit is part of Harper’s Asian tour that took him to Japan March 25-26 and to the South Korean capital March 26-27 where he participated in the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.