PM Modi heads on 3-day Thailand visit as India set to conclude RCEP deal talks

prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to visit Thailand on Saturday where he will attend the ASEAN-India, East Asia and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) summits to strengthen regional cooperation in key areas such as trade, maritime security and connectivity.

On the first day, PM Modi will address the Indian community living in the country and the release of a commemorative coin marking the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, as well as the release a Thai translation of Tamil classic ‘Tirukkural’, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

On November 3, PM Modi will co-chair the 16th ASEAN-India summit alongside Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
“The ASEAN-related summits are an integral part of our diplomatic calendar. This will be Prime Minister Modi’s seventh ASEAN-India summit and sixth East Asia Summit,” The MEA had said during a press briefing on Thursday.

The meeting will take stock of the progress made in the relationship between India and the ASEAN member countries. Several Indian initiatives are currently implemented in this regard, such as New Delhi’s commitment to offering 1,000 PhD scholarships to ASEAN students at the IITs.

The said initiative has a budget of about Rs 300 crores and is the largest human resource initiative for ASEAN member countries by India and for any of ASEAN’s dialogue partner.

On the following day, PM Modi will attend a special lunch hosted by the Thai Prime Minister for the leaders of East Asian countries participating in the summit.

The leaders on this platform will exchange views on progressing the internal sustainable agenda in line with the theme chosen by Thailand — ‘Advancing Partnerships for Sustainability’.

“The theme of this has been chosen by Thailand. In fact, Thailand, under its chairmanship, is promoting the themes advancing partnerships for sustainability. So, we are also working to support this theme and contributing to the discussions that are taking place,” the MEA said.

Later in the day, PM Modi will take part in the 14th East Asia summit. The agenda of the meet would be to review the future direction of East Asia cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues.

Subsequently, PM Modi will take part in the RCEP summit, where the leaders of the member countries will review the state of negotiations which are ongoing in Bangkok currently and will continue over the next few days.

The free trade deal during the RCEP summit is likely to bring down import duties on most agricultural commodities to zero permanently. This deal, which is to be signed among the members of the RCEP, has received flak from the Indian farmers who believe that their livelihood will be hit in a big way if the deal is signed. They have even planned to stage a nationwide protest on Saturday demanding the government to withdraw from the deal.

“There are some critical issues still outstanding and efforts are being made to resolve them to provide a fair and transparent trading environment. These issues are extremely important for our economy and the livelihood of our people. It is, therefore, imperative that these issues are resolved satisfactorily. India remains engaged to find resolutions of these issues,” the MEA said.

On the sidelines of the three summits, PM Modi will hold several bilateral meetings as well. He will return to New Delhi on the evening of November 4.

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