Cambodia and Laos have pledged to boost trade and investment across their border, while trade volume between the two countries last year was just over $27 million, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.
Ministry data show that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Laos last year was more than $27.25 million. The data did not show trade volumes in 2016 but showed that in 2015, Cambodia’s trade volume with Laos was worth $25.62 million.
Minister of Commerce, Pan Sorasak, who participated in the Lao-Cambodian Business Forum held in Vientiane on December 5, highlighted potential opportunities and Cambodian government policy to Lao investors.
“Cambodia’s open policy and investment protection policies are flexible and highly favourable to foreign direct investment, which will help them make long-term profits and also contribute to developing economic growth in Cambodia,” Sorasak said.
Among neighbouring countries, only Laos has a low trade exchange. Last year, the trade volume between Cambodia and Vietnam was valued at over $3.8 billion while the trade volume with Thailand was worth $6.16 billion.
Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmani Pholsena said Laos supports the promotion of trade activities between the two countries, urging Cambodia to encourage the Cambodian private sector to invest in Laos.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said that for a short time, the trade volume between Cambodia and Laos would not be increased much, but it could change after completion of a cross-border bridge linking Preah Vihear province to Champasak province of Laos.
According to the plan, Cambodia and Laos will build the bridge to cross the river to facilitate travelling and the transportation of goods between the two countries, Heng said.
“When there is a bridge, Laos can use the seaport in Preah Sihanouk province to transport its goods to international markets.” I think that trade growth between the two countries will increase.”
Heng said there are Cambodian companies and nationals currently investing in the Lao financial and hotel sectors, while Lao investors come to Cambodia mostly to sell electricity only to neighbouring areas.
The Ministry of Tourism’s 2017 annual report showed that Lao tourists to Cambodia stood in third place with more than 500,000 visitors. The report shows that in the first six months of this year, Cambodia saw over 200,000 Lao visitors.