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Cambodian-Thai trade sees H1 jump, despite pandemic

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Thailand will provide another 140km of rail by September to improve transport of goods. Heng Chivoan

Cambodian-Thai trade sees H1 jump, despite pandemic

Cambodian-Thai bilateral trade hit 82.02 billion baht ($2.6 billion) in the first half of this year, enjoying 2.27 per cent growth while Thailand’s two-way trade with its other neighbours plummeted due largely to Covid-19.

Thailand’s cross-border trade fell 9.18 per cent from January-June on a yearly basis, Bangkok Post reported on August 18, citing data from the Department of Foreign Trade.

Thailand’s bilateral trade with Malaysia sank a whopping 26.81 per cent to 109.4 billion baht, trade with Laos slid 7.09 per cent to 92.29 billion baht, while trade with Myanmar shrank 13.65 per cent to 86.74 billion.

Department director-general Keerati Rushchano said Covid-19 and lockdown measures to curb its spread dealt a crushing blow to trade and tourism as well as the overall economy, in Thailand and neighbouring countries, Bangkok Post reported.

However, he said cross-border trade is picking up as Thailand discusses the option of reopening trading channels with its neighbours as demanded by the private sector, The Nation reported. So far, 40 border checkpoints have been reopened on the Thai side.

Keerati admitted that total border trade this year will not reach the target of 1.1 trillion baht, which had been revised from the previous 1.5 trillion baht target, despite improvement in business.

Trade with China’s southern provinces shot up 16 per cent to 41.69 billion baht, while trade with Singapore climbed 13.70 per cent to 41.69 billion baht, but trade with Vietnam plunged 23.89 per cent to 29.9 billion baht, The Nation reported, citing data from the department.

Keerati said Thailand had been forced to shutter all but 25 of its 42 border checkpoints, which narrowed export channels, The Nation reported.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng noted the limited scope of cross-border trade restrictions between the two kingdoms during the crisis.

He said: “We don’t have any issues concerning the import and export of goods between our two countries. The governments mainly restrict the movement of people in a bid to combat the spread of the [novel] coronavirus.

“The positive growth in trade with Thailand highlights the very good cooperation between the two leaders in promoting the economies of our two neighbouring countries.”

Ministry of Public Works and Transport undersecretary of state Vasim Sorya told The Post on July 22 that Thailand will provide another 140km of rail by September in a move to improve the quality of goods transportation between the two countries.

He said that after the northern railway is upgraded, it will be able to carry 20 tonnes and increase the speed to up to 70km/h from the current 30km/h.

The total volume of trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $9.41 billion last year, up 12 per cent from $8.38 billion in 2018.

Cambodia’s exports to Thailand were worth $2.2 billion last year, up 195 per cent from $768 million in 2018, while imports were worth $7.14 billion, down six per cent from $7.61 billion in 2018.

The majority of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand comprise gemstones, jewellery, agricultural products and aluminium. Cambodia’s imports from Thailand mainly consist of fuel, motorcycles, cars, gemstones and jewellery.

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