Cambodia, Thailand coping with a declining economy
Sok Chan / Khmer Times Thu, July 2, 2020
PHNOM PENH – Cambodia and Thailand held talks on the possibility of reopening border gates to restore the economy, according to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Thailand.
The discussion at the embassy was led by Cambodia’s Ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sophorn and Chanitr Charnchainarong, chair of the Thailand-Cambodia Business Council, as well as Thai businessmen.
Solutions were sought to unlock economic activities and the possibility of reopening the main border gates between the two nations, put in place by the strict health measures on entering and leaving between Cambodia and Thailand to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, Thailand allows export and import of normal goods only in Oddar Meanchey province and the Poipet-Khlong Luk International Checkpoint.
Cambodia’s Ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sophorn said that both delegates will propose the requests to the heads of both governments to first open the Poipet-Khlong Luk International Checkpoint in Cambodia’s Banteay Menachey province and Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.
He said this proposed solution will make it easier for Cambodian medical tourists who go to Thailand to receive their medical checkups there and for Thai businessmen who aim to go Cambodia for business and finance investments. However, authorities will limit the number of travellers crossing the border on both sides each day.
“If the proposal on the opening of Poipet-Khlong Luk International Checkpoint receives approval from both governments, Cambodia-Thailand will propose other requests to open other border gates – O Smach–Chong Chom, Doung International Check Point (Battambang province) and Ban Laem, Chantaburi, Thailand, and Cham Yeam – Hat Lek to facilitate the flow of tourists and trade between the two countries and restore the economy,” Sophorn said.
Book Laychy, director of Banteay Meanchey’s commerce department, said that some Cambodian agriculture products were stuck because Thailand allows export and import products only in Oddor Meanchey province and the Poipet-Khlong Luk International Checkpoint to open for normal goods while the remaining borders are closed. “Tourists and businessmen from both nations cannot enter in or go out. Our provincial governor has also had meeting with his Thailand counterpart to open the border gates, but the Thai did not agree,” he added.
Laychy said that most Cambodian exports are agriculture products, but now we stuck exporting cassava and have in stock 10,800 tonnes. The Thai official will not open the border gate, so it is difficult facilitating exports. He said the Cambodian authorities and Thai counterpart will have another meeting on July 10.
Thailand’s media Sawadee Siam reported that Thailand reopened its land border checkpoints with all neighboring countries yesterday. The opening checkpoints
with Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia for transportation of cross-border cargo and trading is part of the fifth phase of easing lockdown restrictions, which also includes permission for some groups of foreigners to enter Thailand by air.
The reopenings include 14 border checkpoints with Laos, seven with Cambodia, eight with Myanmar, and eight with Malaysia.
According to the data from Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, in the first four months of the year, the bilateral trade between Cambodia-Thailand was $3.1 billion, surging up 18.3 percent compared with the same period last year. Cambodia exported to Thailand products worth $687 million, up 106 percent, while Cambodia imported around $2.4 billion of goods, a rise of 5.6 percent.
Source: KHHMER TIMES, CAMBODIA Thu, July 2, 2020