Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chinese investors eye project opportunities near Thma Da

Chinese investors eye project opportunities near Thma Da

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International border crossing number 56, also known as the Thma Da border checkpoint, in Veal Veng district’s Thma Da commune in Pursat province. Photo supplied

Chinese investors eye project opportunities near Thma Da

Chinese investors are looking for opportunities for development projects at the planned Cambodian-Thai Thma Da border checkpoint in Pursat province.

Pursat provincial governor Mao Thonin told The Post on Tuesday that the Cambodian and Thai governments have already approved the new border checkpoint in Veal Veng district’s Thma Da commune, but he could not confirm when it would open.

The checkpoint will allow Cambodians to export more agricultural products to Thailand, he said.

“The Cambodian-Thai Thma Da border checkpoint holds great potential for the people’s livelihood, especially those living in Pursat province.”

The new border checkpoint development project may attract Chinese investment to the area.

Wiman Singphan, the vice-president of the Thai-Cambodian Border Trade Association in Thailand’s Trat province, told the Bangkok Post that the Chinese plan to invest more than $325 million to develop a new town near the checkpoint.

Wiman said the project includes condominiums, five-star luxury hotels, restaurants, casinos and other public services.

However, provincial deputy governor Khoy Rida said he has not aware of Chinese-owned projects in the area. There is currently no infrastructure development at the site aside from the road which will connect with Thailand.

“I also just heard the news from Thai media,” he said, referring to the Bangkok Post report.

Centre for Policy Studies director Chan Sophal said the checkpoint will boost convenience for trade between Cambodia and Thailand and attract foreign investors, not just Chinese nationals.

“Investment will create jobs and bring more business and trade because, in general, Cambodians are getting a lot of foreign investment, especially from China,” he said.

However, he said loopholes in border control could lead to negative consequences.

“We can face problems if we don’t properly control such a large checkpoint, including drug trafficking, and illegal logging and goods exports,” he said.

More than 90 per cent of businesses currently in Sihanoukville are owned by Chinese nationals, ranging from casinos and restaurants to massage parlours, a report by the Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities said.

However, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay said that opening the border checkpoint would prevent the traffic of illegal goods and tax evasion.

“When we open the official border checkpoint, we have authorities on both sides controlling, so it helps prevent smuggling,” he said.

Bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand reached over $7 billion by the end of October. The government plans to increase the trade volume to $15 billion next year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

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