Thai links set to boost trade with Cambodia

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen attend a conference in Phnom Penh on Thursday. (EPA-EFE photo)

The Cambodian Commerce Ministry has committed to joining up with the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to build a favourable business and investment climate between the Asean neighbours.

The aim is to expand trade to achieve the target of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha’s pledge of US$15 billion bilateral trade by 2020.

The commitment was made at the seminar in Phnom Penh on Monday to expand the potential of border trade, the Khmer Times reported on Wednesday.

It came less than a week after both prime ministers met at the third joint cabinet retreat at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

Both prime ministers agreed to seek more strategies to boost bilateral trade, cross-border development and investment to achieve the target of $15 billion in trade exchange by 2020.

The seminar was attended by more than 200 inter-ministerial officials from Cambodia and Thailand, entrepreneurs, investors and traders.

Kem Sithorn, secretary of state of the Commerce Ministry, said at the seminar that both countries needed to promote mutual understanding to boost trade volume and strengthen economic cooperation.

Sithorn said that Cambodia had enjoyed a strong economic growth averaging 7% a year over the past two decades.

The Cambodian government’s commitment, he said, was to diversify the light manufacturing sector and to continue integrating into regional and global production networks.

Sithorn pointed to the new 2015-1025 Industrial Development Policy, which he said was a growth strategy and a roadmap for developing Cambodia’s small and medium-sized enterprise value chains.

“On behalf of the Commerce Ministry, we pledged to help Thai business people by granting favourable conditions on investment and special incentives to contribute to the expansion of trade and investment along the Cambodian-Thai border,” said Sithorn.

Thai ambassador to Cambodia Nuttavudh Photisaro pointed to the progress of trade relations between Thailand and Cambodia, as well as the importance of diversifying the trade volume on the border to improve the livelihoods of the people of both countries and to achieve the 2020 plan.

“Thailand’s position is to facilitate the transport of goods from Cambodian businessmen to third countries and to support and assist Thai businessmen in the purchase of more agricultural goods from Cambodia,” Nuttavudh said.

At the cabinet retreat, both countries also reached an agreement on double tax avoidance and preventing the declaration of fraudulent income to avoid tax.

Last year, the trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand reached at $5.6 billion, a $100 million rise compared with 2015, according to figures provided by the Thai embassy.

Thailand’s exports to Cambodia last year were worth $4.7 billion while Cambodia’s exports to Thailand were valued at $937 million.

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