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Cambodia eyes Laos trade

11 Cambodia Laos Border gate

Cambodia has set up a Joint Trade Commission (JTC) with Laos in order to boost cross-border trade, according to an official who attended the meeting held last week.

Mao Thora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said Cambodian and Lao officials agreed to establish the JTC, a body which Cambodia used to use with Thailand, in order to accelerate the economy across the border. However, the actual date of finalising the JTC has not yet been confirmed.

“It is a bilateral agreement with Laos, and we need to talk more with the government before finishing,” he said, adding that some trade regulations need to comply with ASEAN and WTO regulations, and as the countries shared a border, other work needs to be done between the two countries through the commission.

“We start discussing now and the next step is that we will sign agreements,” he said, adding that “it is important for the neighbouring countries, who have some issues differing from ASEAN or WTO”.

He said that for neighbouring countries, there are some bilateral needs, such as a ban on smuggling and the establishment of border markets in order to push
development.

He said that bilateral trade with Laos is not yet on a large scale – now about $10 million per year – but after the establishment of the commission, it will accelerate the setting up of markets along the border.

Mao Thora said that so far, Cambodia has only the one international border gateway, Trapeang Kreal, in Stung Treng Province, which shares a border with Laos’s Dong Kralor, and it will be a priority to develop it and other areas.

He said Cambodia had originally set up the commission with Thailand many years ago, but the improvements suggested by this commission were banned after the conflict over the Preah Vihear temple complex.

Yam Lang, the vice-president and branch manager at ACLEDA Bank, said that the initiative was good for future development at the border, because there would be more trade activity after the establishment of the commission.

“It will make the border economy good, it is a good idea,” he said.

Mon Ta, the owner of the Chap Ha Restaurant in Stung Treng province, said she had sold food there for 20 years and she noted that Stung Treng has not had many people travelling except during national holidays such as Pchum Ben or the Khmer New Year.

“I used to sell food at the border, but there are not many people crossing,” she said, adding that “I think it will be better if officials set up a market”, Mon Ta told the Post yesterday.

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