After years of discussion, the Cambodian and Thai governments on Tuesday agreed at the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Co-operation Strategy (ACMECS) summit in Laos to establish a Cambodian-Thai Business Council in a bid to enhance trade and investment between the ASEAN neighbours after a decline in the past few years.
Nguon Meng Tech, director general of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) told the Post on Thursday, after his return from the two-day meeting of Mekong-area countries, that the president of the CCC and Thailand’s Chamber of Commerce had signed a memorandum of understanding, witnessed by both prime ministers, in Laos’s capital, Vientiane, on Tuesday.
“The move came after many years of discussion with each other before we finally reached an agreement,” he said.
“It will help promote trade and investment facilitation between the two nations.”
Jiranan Wongmongkol, the Thai embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office director in Phnom Penh, also recognised the significant progress in economic relations. She said the agreement is a reflection of the efforts made by both governments to promote economic development between the countries.
“This will definitely be significant in ensuring investors and businesspeople feel confident in doing business and investing in Cambodia or Thailand,” she said. “From now on, both chambers can exchange trade and investment information to each other in order to help investors and businesspeople in our countries.
“In addition, it will help to increase even more trade and investment to flow from Thailand to Cambodia,” she said.
Investment between the kingdoms has been in gradual decline over the past few years due to a political row that was only resolved when Thailand’s first female Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to power in 2011.
According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Kingdom received $107 million in investment from Thailand in 2007, but this declined to $2 million in 2010 and no investment at all in 2011 and 2012.
Nonetheless, Thai embassy data showed that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand was worth $3.8 billion last year – an increase of 40 per cent.
Nguon Meng Tech said that he had already established a business council with Vietnam earlier this year, and that the CCC plans to sign a memorandum of understanding establishing councils with Laos and Myanmar this year.
They are also planning to have a combined ACMECS business council by 2015. ACMECS is made up of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Late last year, Cambodia and Thailand launched their “single visa” to better facilitate the flow of tourists. Tourists from 35 countries can now enter on this visa.
Thailand and Cambodia also commenced a direct bus in February connecting Bangkok with Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]