CAMBODIA and Vietnam signed a bilateral deal Thursday that will allow greater access to each other’s port facilities, an agreement both sides said would boost trade across the border.
The deal means that ships from Cambodia will enjoy unlimited access to Vietnamese ports on the Mekong, and vice versa, following a more restrictive agreement signed in 1998 that limited Vietnam’s vessels to Phnom Penh.
“The agreement will increase trade activity and transportation on waterways in place of land routes, which have become overcrowded,” said Mom Sibon, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MPWT).
The deal promises to further access to Cai Mep deepwater port near Ho Chi Minh City, a facility opened this year that has cut days off shipping times to North America, Cambodia’s biggest export market.
Container traffic through Phnom Penh Autonomous Port – which has used the new Mekong route to Cai Mep – increased 8.61 percent in October year on year.
Both sides would establish a task force under the MPWT and Vietnam’s Ministry of Transportation to address issues such as cutting complicated documentation, said Mom Sibon.
Le Bien Cuong, Vietnam’s Phnom Penh-based commercial councilor, said the agreement would further diversify links between the two countries with the aim of annual bilateral trade of US$2 billion.
Trade between the two neighbours reached $1.049 billion in the first 10 months, a 36.15 percent drop on the same period last year when trade hit a record $1.493 billion.