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Cambodia, Vietnam to open 6 new crossings

Cambodia, Vietnam to open 6 new crossings

ASEAN neighbours hail proposed crossings as steps towards increasing trade, investment.

CAMBODIA and Vietnam have agreed to open six new border crossings that serve citizens from other nations to boost trade and travel. Currently there is just one such gate at Bavet in Svay Rieng province.

Mom Sibon, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said the agreement was reached last month during the visit of a delegation led by Vietnam's transport minister.

"These [new gates] will boost the economy at the border and cut the time spent by people looking to trade or travel," he said. "It will also help to reduce smuggling, which usually runs through small corridors."

Mom Sibon said Vietnam wanted to double the current limit of 150 vehicles per day that can cross between the two nations.

"But for now we have agreed to 150 vehicles," he said. "We will discuss the possibility [of increasing that number] later."

He said Vietnam wanted the six gates to be border crossings that allowed only nationals of the two countries to cross.

"But we proposed that we open them [to other countries' citizens] to facilitate trade and tourism," he said. "Because we are ASEAN members we don't need visas - we just use border passes."

Le Bien Cuong, commercial councillor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the new crossings were part of the bid to boost trade between the two countries to US$2 billion by next year.

"Both governments have recently taken steps to strengthen relations and increase trade with their neighbours," he said. "The new border gates will attract Vietnamese investors to invest in Cambodia, and will assist Cambodian businesspeople looking to export to Vietnam."

He said total trade flows between the two nations reached $637 million in the first six months of this year. Cambodia's share totalled $95 million, most of which were agricultural products.

Mao Thora, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, welcomed the initiative as a boon for traders.

"The more border gates we open, the more we benefit," he said.

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