Cambodia, Thailand agree to boost cross-border checkpoint trade

Cambodia and Thailand have pledged to facilitate the two nations’ bilateral trade at cross-border checkpoints in order to boost it towards its previously set target of  $15 billion.

The news was revealed at a meeting between Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai The two engaged in a sideline discussion at the sixth Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held this week in Chongqing, China.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation for the common interest of the two countries, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“In order to reach the two-way trade target of $15 billion set by the two nations’  prime ministers at the third Joint Cabinet Retreat, the  ministers encouraged the relevant authorities of both sides to double efforts in facilitating trade flow across the border checkpoints,” read the statement.

Both sides agreed to hold the 11th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand later this year or early next year in Cambodia, it continued.

The trade target of $15 billion was originally slated to be achieved by 2020, but the goal was a casualty of the unforseen effects of Covid-19. Last year,  two-way trade reached $7.236 billion, half of the target.

The time frame for achieving the $15 billion target has been reset to 2023.The two nations saw a decrease in trade in the first four months this year with about $2.3 billion registered, a 5 percent drop compared with the same period last year. The decrease was largely down to travel and border closures because of the pandemic.

Agricultural products accounted for the majority of Cambodian exports to Thailand, while Thai exports to Cambodia primarily consisted of energy resources, agriculture fertilisers, food supplies and cosmetics.

Panyarak Poolthup, Thailand’s ambassador to Cambodia, previously said the virus tightened border crossings, making it difficult for an easy flow of goods between the two countries. Thai investors and business people remain bullish on the potential for investment in Cambodia, with investment opportunities still being sought out, he said, adding that Thai companies operating in Cambodia are continuing their normal production chains despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Cambodia’s embassy in Thailand recently launched the Cambodian Business Council, to promote bilateral economic and trade activities between Cambodia and Thailand.

The council will also provide information and knowledge related to business and improving the quality of goods and services, production and supply promotion among members.