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Expectations for Yingluck visit

The Kingdom’s business community has welcomed the inaugural state visit of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, expecting bilateral trade and investment to improve as a result.

The Thai PM will be accompanied by a business delegation on her trip, which commences September 15, commercial counsellor at the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh Jiranan Wongmongkol said yesterday.

“Yingluck will be joined by a group of Thai business people, who are expected to meet with Cambodian businesses during the visit.”

Although the visit is intended to boost trade and investment, so far no trade agreements have been made public, she said.

“I don’t think either country has formed a memorandum of understanding yet, they just want to resume and strengthen business and investment at this time.”

While the visit of the recently elected Yingluck is eagerly anticipated by the Kingdom’s business community, no specific agenda for the trip has been released. Therefore little is known about how she will spend her time in Cambodia, according to Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesmen Koy Kuong.

Although an enhancement of trade relations is expected to be discussed, some experts believe that business will not be affected immediately.

“It is unlikely that investment will reach previous heights in the short term. Potential investors need to conduct research and evaluate, which takes time,” University of Cambodia business and economics lecturer Chheng Kimlong said yesterday.

It could take a couple of years before investor confidence is restored given the deadly border clashes between the two countries this year and resultant political tensions, he said.

“If the governments can cooperate and restore confidence, the flow of investment, trade and tourism will follow.”

Chheng Kimlong added that the two governments are unlikely to raise the issue of the Overlapping Claims Area in the Gulf of Thailand, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas, while the Thai PM is in Phnom Penh.

“It is not a suitable time to discuss the overlapping maritime area. They should restart talks in a few months.”   

ACLEDA Bank President and Chief Executive Officer In Channy agreed that closer ties between the neighbouring kingdoms would benefit trans-border business.

“All neighbouring countries should maintain close relations to promote a smooth import-export climate across the border, while encouraging trade activities to increase business and confidence,” he said.

Bilateral trade between the countries increased more than 1 percent in the first six months of 2011, hitting US$1.430 billion, compared to $1.412 billion during the same period last year, according to figures from the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office.

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