Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (CLV) on March 10 reaffirmed their commitment to boost border trade and investment with a specific focus on the construction of border markets and to improve customs clearance procedures.

The pledge was made during a virtual discussion between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese and Lao counterparts Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Thongloun Sisoulith.

The prime ministers agreed to work together in a more productive and collaborative way to facilitate trade and investment processes and improve control of the entry of goods via border checkpoints, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a press release.

It said: “With regards to cooperation [under the] sub-regional framework, the three prime ministers agreed to accelerate the implementation of the CLV Economic Connectivity Plan up to 2030, with focuses on cooperation in mobilising the resources from development partners for constructing the Hanoi-Vientiane Highway, the Vientiane-Vung Ang Railway, and the Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh Railway.

“They also agreed to continue to effectively maintain and implement the existing mechanisms of cooperation, to boost the cooperation among border provinces [and] to effectively implement agreements on border management.”

The national leaders also vowed to spur the construction of additional “model markets” along international borders, product distribution centres and commercial warehouses, as well as to streamline customs clearance for goods and people to reduce checks and delays at land-border gates, Vietnam’s official VGP News reported.

The Cambodian government is pushing for the construction of two border “model markets” in Kampot and Svay Rieng provinces along the shared frontier with Vietnam in a bid to fuel bilateral trade and ratchet up Cambodia’s exports.

This comes after Da Market, the first of this kind, was inaugurated on December 24, 2019, in Tbong Khmum province.

And according to Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, Kampot’s “model market” should break ground by the end of the year near the Prek Chak International Border Checkpoint that links the coastal province to Vietnam’s Kien Giang province.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post last month that the second border “model market” would herald a flow of Cambodian wares into Vietnam.

“If you ask me, it’s fantastic news that we’re setting up the border model markets,” he said.

“These will boost the market and price of Cambodian agricultural products – most of which we produce in excess of demand – and I hope others will be set up on the Cambodian-Thai and Cambodian-Lao borders to undergird trade cooperation.”

Trade between the Kingdom and Vietnam was worth $3.020 billion in 2020, inching down 1.1 per cent from $3.054 the previous year, according to statistics from the commerce ministry.

Cambodia exported $385.79 million worth of goods to Vietnam in 2020, surging 14.88 per cent from $335.82 million in 2019, and imported $2.634 billion, down 3.10 per cent from $2.718 billion.

The Kingdom’s trade deficit with Vietnam reduced to $2.248 billion, marking a nearly six per cent drop from $2.382 billion in 2019.

Trade between the Kingdom and Laos on the other hand leaves much to be desired.

Bilateral trade notched up just over $10 million in 2019, with the Kingdom exporting $2.456 million worth of merchandise, down 66 per cent from 2019, and importing $7.609 million, sharply rising by 349 per cent.