In an important move, India moved closer to accessing a strategic gateway to South East Asia as it finalised a pact for cooperation between the Ranong port in Thailand and Indian ports in Kolkata, Chennai and Visakhapatnam.
This was one of the key takeaways of the bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Thailand’s PM General (retd) Prayut Chan-o-Cha.
According to officials, the Port of Authority of Thailand (PAT) is pressing ahead with the development of Ranong Port as a logistics gateway between Thailand and India as both countries have agreed to promote a new maritime route. With this, sea travel time between India and Thailand will be reduced from 10 to 15 days to seven. Currently, cargo ships from Krishnapatnam Port travel to Laem Chabang Port in Chon Buri and Bangkok Port in Bangkok via Malaysia.
Sources said that by developing this maritime route, Ranong port has the potential to become the main access point for Indian goods.
Addressing the business leaders in Bangkok, Modi said, “In the spirit of our Act East Policy, we are paying special attention to enhance connectivity with this region. Direct connectivity between ports on Thailand’s west coast and ports on India’s east coast, such as Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata, will enhance our economic partnership. We must take advantage of all these favourable factors. We must take advantage of our geographical proximity like our forefathers did.”
The two leaders also welcomed the growing air connectivity between the two countries and start of a direct flight between Bangkok and Guwahati. They also discussed ways to enhance digital connectivity.
“In the contemporary context, India’s ‘Act East’ policy is complimented by Thailand’s ‘Look West’ policy which has made the relationship deep, robust and multifaceted,” an official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said.