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Thailand, Cambodia to open more checkpoints, bolster trade

Cambodian Premier Hun Sen hugs visiting Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a joint press conference in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (Government House photo)

Thailand and Cambodia agreed on Thursday to open four more border checkpoints and vowed to achieve their bilateral trade target.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Premier Hun Sen hoped to see the quick opening of a checkpoint between Ban Nong Ian in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district and Stung Bot in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province to relieve traffic congestion at the crossing between Aranyaprathet and Poipet.

The Aranyaprathet checkpoint is the gateway of trade between the two countries.

The other three checkpoints to be opened have not been named.

Opening more crossings and transport links is part of their strategy to increase trade and contacts between Thailand and Cambodia.

The two countries want to restore by 2020 the Aranyaprathet-Phnom Penh rail link severed due to internal conflicts in Cambodia, according to the Thai government website.

The railway line faces a delay in Cambodia and a plan to put it on the agenda at the meeting of the two prime ministers was shelved.

"The linkages are key to development and prosperity of the two countries," the Thai government statement said.

Deputy government spokesman Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said Thailand and Cambodia promised to achieve the bilateral trade target of US$15 billion by 2020.

The goal is a big jump for the two countries, given the Thai Commerce Ministry data of $6 billion for 2015.

Gen Prayut and Mr Hun Sen witnessed the signing ceremony of an agreement for an exemption from double taxation aimed at promoting investment.

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