BILATERAL trade with Thailand increased by 35 percent year on year in the first quarter 2011, as officials on both sides claimed yesterday border violence has had little impact on the exchange of goods.
Jiranan Wongmongkol, a commercial counsellor based at the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, said bilateral trade was on track to increase by an annualised 25 percent over 2011.
“It [trade] is still increasing because the borders remained open and we were able to import and export as normal,” she said. Clashes had broken out in February on the border near Preah Vihear temple.
First quarter bilateral trade totalled US$716 million, compared to $527 million the year previous, statistics from the Thai Embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office show. However, statistics are not yet available for the month of April, when the most recent spate of violence began.
Jiranan Wongmongkol did not specify a date for the planned 2nd Thailand Trade Exhibition 2011, which was slated for May 19 to 22 on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island, but had been postponed on May 13 by Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh.
“For the second large expo this year, we are unsure. We are waiting to see how the situation unfolds between both governments,” she said.
Thailand’s main exports to Cambodia were petroleum, processed goods and consumer products, and construction materials, while agricultural products, second-hand garments, and recyclable materials were shipped in the opposite direction, she said.
Cambodia Ministry of Commerce officials confirmed that trade continued despite the clashes.
“Trade is trade, it is not the problem. We are still trading normally,” Ministry Secretary of State Chan Nora said. Growing Cambodian demand for construction materials has also boosted Thai imports, according to Chip Mong Import-Export and Construction Company Human Resource Manager Sieng Vibol.
“This year, our import of construction materials continues to increase, there is not a problem,” he said.
CP Cambodia Company Marketing Manager Thanak Chhit said yesterday the firm was attempting to cut the amount of animal feed it imports from across the border, in keeping with a corporate mandate to source locally. Petroleum products importer PTT had also been unaffected by the conflict, according to Marketing Manager Bin Many Mialia.