NEW DELHI, January 23 – BUSINESS STANDARD – Thailand's first woman Prime Minister, Yingluck, 44, the youngest sister of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, is the chief guest at India's Republic Day Parade at Rajpath this year. She will arrive in India on 24 January 2012. India and Thailand signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2003, which became effective in 2005. The focus of talks between Yingluck and the Indian leaders will focus on economy and investment and a declaration to finish the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Treaty (CECA) by 2012 at the prime ministerial level. According to the January-November 2011 figures, Indian exports to Thailand were USD 4.72 billion, while imports were USD 2.74 billion dollars with the trade balance at USD 1.98 billion. The growth rate has shot up rapidly over the years from 2.66 per cent in 2002 to 23.38 per cent by 2011. Indian companies too have expressed keen interest to enter Thailand. There are 45 Indian companies operating here. India and Thailand do not compete directly with each other - the Thai jasmine rice is different than India's Basmati, India's strength is in software while Thailand is known for its hardware etc. – BUSINESS STANDARD – A team from Abercrombie & Fitch, a prominent American clothing chain, was in India recently to explore setting up shop in the country, according to a top executive of a consultancy firm. Gap, another big brand from the US, is learnt to have stepped up enquiries about the Indian market after the government recently allowed up to 100 per cent foreign direct investment in single brand retail. Other global retailers such as Swedish furniture major Ikea, the UK’s Arcadia group and American coffee brand Starbucks are reported to be giving finishing touches to their India plans. – BUSINESS STANDARD – A number of economists are pointing to India’s trade data to argue that, contrary to traditional teaching that exports thrive when the rupee depreciates, it is now the other way round. Meaning, exports would thrive when the rupee appreciates. Experts are saying exchange rate policy should not aim at export promotion alone, but balance both export and import growth. This would help export-oriented firms to achieve more and with greater efficiency. – BUSINESS STANDARD – Economists want Budget to focus on infrastructure, have a clear strategy on disinvestment and state measures to boost investment climate. Power and social sectors should also be among the major focus areas. According to Rajiv Kumar, secretary general FICCI, instead of relying on markets for disinvestment, Government should look for a strategic partner to sell assets like Ashoka Hotel or Air India.