ISLAMABAD: The prime minister’s of Pakistan and Thailand on Tuesday expressed their desire to build a strong economic partnership, double their trade figures to $2 billion in the next five years and eventually enter into a Free Trade Agreement.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, addressing a joint press conference, expressed their commitment to collaborate in the field of trade, culture, infrastructure development, science and technology, defence, education and tourism.

Prime Minister Sharif said the two sides held a “comprehensive discussion” on a wide range of issues and noted the convergence of views on important bilateral and international issues.

The two sides also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Prime Minister Shinawatra extended her country’s support to Pakistan in becoming a Full Dialogue Partner with the ASEAN, as Prime Minister Sharif appreciated Thailand’s “consistent support” for Pakistan’s enhanced partnership with the regional forum.

Sharif also expressed satisfaction with the progress made in recent years in the political, economic and defence spheres.

“We agreed to further consolidate and expand this partnership for the mutual benefit of our two peoples,” he added.

The Thai PM also noted cooperation in security and defence particularly in the areas of training and joint exercises.

The prime minister said building robust economic and trade relations were a priority with the government.

“Both sides have agreed to work towards a Free Trade Agreement to form the center piece of our economic partnership,” the prime minister said and mentioned that both the countries have agreed to establish a joint trade committee and a joint business council at the private level to promote business-to-business contacts on the two sides.

“We are happy to note that private business sectors on both sides have also met today,” the prime minister said and also mentioned that the inaugural session of the Joint Trade Committee was being held tomorrow to identify areas of future collaboration.

He expressed the hope that these desired steps would expand bilateral trade and investments and facilitate business partnerships.

“We have invited Thai private businesses to invest in Pakistan in various sectors including infrastructure development, energy, autoparts manufacturing, food processing, packaging, gems and jewelry, tourism and hospitality,” Sharif said.