Two Bangkok-based business councils have demonstrated their commitment to join forces and ensure frictionless cross-border trade between Cambodia and Thailand amid tightened border controls imposed in the harsh times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On behalf of the Cambodia Business Council (CBC) which is slated to be launched by the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok in the near future, ambassador Ouk Sorphorn on March 1 met a delegation of the Thailand-Cambodia Business Council (TCBC) led by its chairman Chanitr Charnchainarong to discuss ongoing trade and investment development projects for this year.

Sorphorn told The Post that the meeting talked about the economic downturn in the wake of the ongoing crisis, the idea of vaccine passports and the latest status of Cambodia-Thai trade and investment.

Also on the agenda was the possibility of opening the Chup Koki-Sai Taku border checkpoint that links Cambodia’s Oddar Meanchey province and Thailand’s Buriram province in a push to propel two-way trade and economic cooperation, he said.

“It is beyond question, we’ve indeed been hammered in bilateral trade during the troubling times of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although the border’s been tightened, we won’t ban the import or export of goods between the two nations – we’ll only stiffen control of people’s movement. As a result, our goods exchange will remain but with just a slowdown in volume.

“TCBC called for additional trade promotion at the borders between the two countries to lift the livelihoods of people [in the area].

“We also talked about cooperative arrangements between our two institutions and touched on the flow of merchandise and how to get more Cambodian-made products into Thailand, especially at Big C supermarkets and 7-Eleven mini-marts,” Sorphorn said.

Trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $7.236 billion last year, tumbling 23.17 per cent from 2019, primarily due to the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Statistics show that Cambodia exported $1.148 billion in merchandise to Thailand in 2020, down 49.49 per cent year-on-year, and imported $6.089 billion, down 14.80 per cent from 2019.

According to Sorphorn, the CBC will hold a virtual business and investment conference to allure more Thai investors and businesspeople to invest in Cambodia.

“We laid out plans, the Thai business council and the embassy have figured out a gameplan to promote commerce and modernise trade and investment between the two countries to the fullest extent and woo Thai businesspeople and investors to Cambodia.

“We already drafted action plans – if we cannot carry them out in-person we’ll do so virtually. It’ll be like last year, when we held an online event in which around 500 companies participated,” he said.

According to Sorphorn, Thailand is among the nine largest investors in Cambodia, pumping $967.89 million in foreign direct investment into the country between 1994 and the end of the third quarter of 2017.