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Thai-Cambodia agricultural zones set for establishment

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to set up specialised agricultural export zones along the border inside Cambodia in a bid to curb any suspension of cross-border trade from Thailand, as well as to achieve a 30 per cent increase in bilateral trade year-on-year, commerce official said.

The initiative was agreed between Cambodia’s commerce minister Cham Prasidh and Thailand’s commerce minister when they met during the Third Joint-Trade Committee in Bangkok last Sunday, according to the Thai media.

Sok Sopheak, director general of the commerce ministry said that the establishment of the zones aims to avoid any problems on the Thai side, especially during the harvest season.

“Actually, they [Thailand] buy our agricultural products not to supply their own market, they just buy from us for export to other countries,” he said. “When we have this zone in our country, they can easily come to buy from farmers to process or stock here for export —this will not impact their price at all.”

He said that the establishment of the zones located in some areas in provinces along the border— probably Ordor Meanchey, Pailin, and Banteay Meanchey, by allowing investors come and build warehouses and drying plants to eventually export to another countries via Thailand.

Ly Uttny, president of Banteay Meanchey Chamber of Commerce, said the establishment of the zone will help farmers avoid any bans from Thailand.

He said that zone will attract more investors to invest at the border for processing other agricultural products to export via Thailand.

“It can also reduce transportation for export to other countries, which is cheaper, rather than transporting from here to Sihanoukville Port— that costs them a lot because it is very far, more than 1,000 kilometres,” he said.

Sok Sopheak said both sides had already set up action plans and taskforces to speed up the process, and said they are currently conducting a joint feasibility study. “It is not an easy job. It will take about six months to one year,” he said.

“What we are trying to do now is to prepare and do some paperwork, set up regulations, mechanism and some other agreements that we can sign in order to facilitate trading smoothly. We welcome any foreign investors come to invest in our designed areas.”

He also said that with the establishment of the zone, both countries aimed to increase bilateral trade by 30 per cent year-on-year.

Trade between the two countries rose by 58.16 percent to $1.133.53 billion in the Q1 of the year compared to $716.69 million, according to the data from Thai embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion office to Phnom Penh.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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