Cambodia and Vietnam agree to build new border checkpoints and embark on massive infrastructure projects as part of a plan to increase bilateral trade to $2 billion per year by 2010
CAMBODIAN and Vietnamese officials have agreed on an infrastructure package that is hoped to propel bilateral trade to US$2 billion by 2010.
Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong and his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Gia Khiem, agreed to open two new border checkpoints.
They also plan to upgrade the two existing border crossings, which the government hopes will stimulate legal trade, officials told the Post Wednesday.
The announcement was made at the 10th annual meeting for Economic, Cultural and Scientific-Technological Cooperation in Da Nang.
The two deputy prime ministers agreed to upgrade Samrong and Prey Vor in Svay Rieng province to international checkpoints and open two more points at Kampong Krasaing in Takeo province and Lapakhe in Mondulkiri province, said Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.
"The illegal border gate [Lapakhe in Mondulkiri] that was used to transport wood before will become a legal trade exchange gate," said Mao Thora, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce.
"We are trying to open as many borders gates as possible to create business opportunity for border citizens, but we cannot find many places that have enough people," he added.
Mao Thora said that the two governments also agreed to several large-scale infrastructure projects.
They include the Se San I and Se San II hydro-electric dams, the Chrey Thom Bridge, a train link from Phnom Penh to Vietnam, and the connection of an electric line by early 2010, Koy Kuong said.
The countries also prioritised human resources, investment, healthcare, mining, oil and gas, and plantation and seafood processing.
Officials also addressed the rampant smuggling of rice and petrol on the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
To cut rice smuggling, the governments announced that traders would need a permit to export more than 100 tonnes of rice, Mao Thora said.
The Vietnamese government earlier this year announced a set of measures to cut petrol smuggling, including forcing petrol stations near the border to close at night.
During the joint commission meeting, Vietnam also granted 100 long-term and 450 short-term scholarships to train Cambodian government officials, military, police and students over the course of next year.
Trade between Vietnam and Cambodia has increased as border tensions with Thailand dampen economic ties to the Kingdom's western neighbour. Trade stood at just under $1 billion last year.