Business representatives from Cambodia and Thailand put country tensions to one side yesterday in order to discuss measures to improve commercial relations, with the exchange of investment information highlighted as an important area for development.
The first Cambodia-Thailand Business Summit, held in Phnom Penh yesterday, saw the two nations agree upon commercial issues for both governments to tackle – such as the opening of more international gates, improved logistics, and easing vehicle restrictions at borders.
In a series of meetings, one attended by Minister of Finance and Economy Keat Chhon and Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri, ideas were also put forward to develop business relations.
Thailand’s Chamber of Commerce also suggested the creation of business information centres in border areas to aid economic development. The centres – termed SME clinics – would boost economic cooperation, said Thai Board of Trade Vice Chairman Niyon Wairatpining.
“Presently new investors, particularly SMEs, are afraid to invest into neighbouring countries, because of a lack of information [needed] for decision making,” he said yesterday. Cambodia Chamber of Commerce
Deputy Director, Sorn Sokna, said the suggestion could boost trade an added that the chamber already had some provincial representative offices.
“We have around 150,000 SMEs looking to put investment into neighbouring countries – if we have SME clinics, they can access information and seek partners,” he said.
“I will set up more offices along the border to ease the situation [of a lack of information],” he said.
Sorn Sokna said the next step would be to ensure there was an easy way to set up the project. Niyon Wairatpining recommended Cambodia set up the clinics through the Ministry of Commerce.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon emphasised the importance of Thailand as a business partner for Cambodia.
“In 2010, Thailand was No1 of the 10 ASEAN member states in terms of bilateral trade with Cambodia,” he said.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankiri said the summit had built a path for business people in the two neighbours to improve their ties.
“Trading is benefiting both our peoples,” he said. He added it was important for businesses to find reliable partners.
The respective Chamber of Commerce of the two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen business and investment cooperation and information sharing at yesterday’s meeting. Thailand will host the second Cambodia-Thailand Business Summit next year.
Bilateral trade between the two countries increased 54.18 percent in 2010, according to the Thai Embassy.