LAHORE: Thailand and Pakistan are holding talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is likely to be signed by the end of this year. Thailand Ambassador Suchart Liengsaengthong disclosed this at a meeting with Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Vice President Nasir Saeed at the chamber on Monday. Former LCCI senior vice president Mian Nauman Kabir, Executive Committee members Amjad Ali Jawa, Mian Abdul Razzaq, Raja Adeel Ashfaq, Asad Noor Paganwala, Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim, Shahzad Ahmed, Tariq Mahmood and others were also present. The ambassador said that trade would flourish after signing of the FTA between the two countries. He said that such tools were important in today’s world because they would bring down the cost of doing business and remove non-tariff barriers. He said that Thailand was already investing in Pakistan and more Thai companies were keen to start their operations here. He said that a high level business delegation from Thailand would visit Pakistan in the first week of August. The delegation would have people from cosmetics, construction, automobile, plastic, consumer goods, furniture, seafood and private hospitals in its fold. He invited the LCCI to take a trade delegation to Thailand to explore trade, investment and joint venture opportunities there. He said that textile and tourism sectors of Pakistan were vibrant. He said that Pakistan could learn a lot from Thailand in the tourism sector. He said that Pakistani products should be introduced in Thai market more effectively. He said that Thailand and Pakistan should join hands to give a new strength to their trade and economic ties. Both countries have dynamic consumer markets and an unlimited scope for their businessmen, he added. LCCI Vice President Nasir Saeed said that Thailand and Pakistan established diplomatic ties back in 1951 and both countries enjoyed steady economic and trade relations. Although Pakistan faces unfavourable balance of trade with Thailand, consistent rise in bilateral trade is a positive sign, he said. He said that Thailand was number 34 among the top exporting countries for Pakistan, while it was ranked 12 among the top importing countries. He said that at present imports and exports between the two countries were increasing. He said the LCCI would like to increase the volume of Pakistani exports to Thailand. He said that from 2013 to 2015 the bilateral trade increased from $833 million to$ 973 million. This expansion was largely caused by a considerable change in imports, which swelled from $716 million to $853 million. However, Pakistan’s exports could only scale up from $117 million to $120 million in this period. “We would like to see the possibilities as to how we can give a boost to our exports to Thailand with the help and support of the Thai embassy,” he said. The LCCI vice president said that Pakistan was already exporting frozen fish, woven cotton fabric, crustaceans, cotton yarn, leather, medicament mixtures and electro-medical apparatus to Thailand, but its potential for exports to Thailand was far more diversified and bigger than its current size. He said that this objective could be achieved by bridging the communication gap among various private sectors. The LCCI vice president said the business community wanted to develop close linkages with the business support organisations to ensure continuity in Pakistan’s efforts to increase the volume of trade between the two countries. Trade fairs and single country exhibitions can also be arranged on a reciprocal basis to achieve this goal, he said. Saeed said that Pakistan offered a lot of opportunities to foreign investors through 100 enterprises of their own or in the form of joint ventures with their Pakistani counterparts.