Thai investors eye new projects in Cambodia

Investors from Thailand are mulling options to set up joint investments in Cambodia in some sectors, including processed food, agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, plastic, services, gems and jewellery.

Around 60 businesspeople from Thailand visited Cambodia last week and the delegation held a discussion with the Minister of Industry Cham Prasidh.

The business delegation termed its visit as a move to further enhance the business, trade and investment cooperation between both countries.

Many investors from Thailand are looking at Cambodia’s potential for an export-orientated manufacturing base, considering that the Kingdom had entered into several free-trade agreements with several countries, including China and South Korea.

According to experts, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) have provided wider exporting markets for the Kingdom. Cambodia’s total export to other RCEP member countries totalled $3.28 billion in the first half of 2022, up 10 percent year-on-year.

Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand, led the delegation to Cambodia in the first week of August.

Angubolkul was quoted as saying in a Bangkok Post report that the delegation urged the government in Cambodia to help tackle obstacles to trade facilitation, in terms of rules and redundant regulations, to attract more foreign investment.

Angubolkul pointed out that Cambodia has been witnessing an average annual economic growth of 7-8 percent because of the country’s foreign direct investment policy.

Reiterating that the Kingdom has been looking at developing its tourism and agricultural sectors, he told the Bangkok newspaper, “This offers a very good opportunity for Thai businesses to forge joint investments with Cambodian counterparts in many sectors such as processed food, agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, plastic, the service sector, as well as gems and jewellery.”

The delegation also proposed that the Thai government re-establish a rail link between Sa Kaeo’s Aranyaprathet district and Cambodia’s Poi Pet to facilitate cross-border trade and boost tourism around Thailand’s eastern border, according to the report.

The rail link was halted following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

The bilateral trade between both countries surged around 23 percent to $2.297 billion in the first half of this year compared with $1.870 billion in the previous year, according to the data from the General Department of Customs and Excise.

Exports to Thailand rose 36.7 per cent to $495.778 million while imports went up 19.5 per cent to $1.801 billion. However, Cambodia’s trade deficit with Thailand rose 14 percent to $1.306 billion during the period.

Cambodia’s main exports to Thailand include textiles, agricultural products, gems, raw materials and semi-finished products.

Major imports from Thailand are fish, meat, vegetables, automobiles, organic fertilisers, foodstuffs, and construction materials.