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Trade with Thailand surges

Officials report 84 percent rise in first four months over same period in ’09

TRADE between Cambodia and Thailand has surged more than 80 percent during the first four months of 2010 compared to the same period last year, statistics from the Thai Embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion office (FTPO) show.

The neighbours exchanged goods worth US$914 million in the year to the end of April, up 84 percent from $497 million for the first four months in 2009, statistics obtained Wednesday state.

Bilateral trade during April 2010 was estimated to total $386 million alone, a major surge from a low base in the same month of 2009.

April is traditionally a strong month for trade due to economic spin-offs from agricultural harvests, including crops of rice, corn, cassava and beans, Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) market manager Lang Seng Hort said Wednesday.

Tension between the two nations flared last year following deadly clashes over the disputed Preah Vihear temple, though FTPO officials said the conflict had little impact on trade.

“The decline in trade last year was not due to political issues,” FTPO director Jiranan Wongmongkol said Wednesday. “This year’s figures are just increasing to pre-crisis trading levels. Last year was simply a bad year.”

Total trade between the two countries fell 22.15 percent to an annualised $1.658 billion in 2009, from $2.130 billion in 2008, according to FTPO figures.

Cambodian officials believe that agricultural subsidies, which saw Thailand’s government temporarily extend loans to farmers, contributed to slowing trade in the first four months of last year.

Banteay Meanchey’s provincial Director of Commerce Thong Thyna said: “Thai businesspersons delayed imports of Cambodian agricultural products from April till June last year, as they didn’t want to negatively impact their produce.”

Thailand exported $883.57 million to Cambodia in the first four months of this year, up from $480.75 million last year, while Cambodia shipped $30.32 million to Thailand, up 83.4 percent from $16.53 million for the first four months 2009.

Thailand’s exports to Cambodia include petroleum, processed goods, consumer products, building materials, fruits, vegetables and cosmetics, while Cambodia primarily ships agricultural products, secondhand garments, recyclable metal and fish in the opposite direction.

Chip Mong Import-Export and Construction Company human resource manager Sieng Vibol said growing demand in the Kingdom for construction materials this year also contributed to the boost of imports from Thailand.

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