Thai firms eye potential of Cambodian investments

Thai businesses have set their sights on expanding trade and investment in Cambodia, especially in processed food, agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, plastic, and gems and jewellery.

According to Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade of Thailand, Cambodia is seeing average economic growth of 7-8% per year as a result of the country opening up to foreign direct investment.

Cambodia has been trying to develop its tourism and agricultural sectors, but the country still lacks sufficient knowledge and modern technology, especially in terms of storage and processing in order to increase values.

“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,” said Mr Sanan, who led the first post-pandemic visit to Cambodia by more than 60 Thai businesses on Aug 4-5.

According to Mr Sanan, the Thai business delegations also met with Cambodia’s Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Cham Prasidh. They urged the Cambodian government to help tackle obstacles to trade facilitation, in terms of rules and redundant regulations, to attract more foreign investment.

Mr Sanan said Cambodia is potentially capable of becoming an export-orientated manufacturing base for Thai investors now that the country has free-trade agreements with several countries, including China and South Korea.

He added that the Thai business sector has also proposed that cooperation be focused on gems and jewellery, as well as education.

According to Mr Sanan, the business group 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.

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

Two-way trade between Thailand and Cambodia totalled US$7.97 billion in 2021, up 10.2% from a year before.

Exports from Thailand accounted for $7.07 billion, and imports stood at $895 million.