Cambodia and Vietnam is set to open a border gate as an international checkpoint – linking the southeastern province of Prey Veng to Tay Ninh on the Vietnamese side – on May 31 to further boost trade between the countries in preparation for the eventual containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was revealed in a letter from Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting approval, according to online news outlet Fresh News.
The Meun Chey-Tan Nam border checkpoint is located in Kamchay Mear district’s Krabao commune on the Cambodian side and near the Tan Nam hamlet in Tan Bien district’s Tan Binh commune on the Vietnamese side.
The Cambodian government had decided to proceed with the upgrade in April 2014, with the Vietnamese side only agreeing over five years later – on December 3, 2019 – to complete the necessary internal procedures.
The official inauguration ceremony of the international border gate will be held under the presidency of the two prime ministers in the near future, after the Covid-19 situation improves.
Prey Veng Provincial Administration spokesman Chheang Sovannara confirmed that Prey Veng and Tay Ninh authorities would open the Meun Chey-Tan Nam international border checkpoint on May 31 to increase goods exchange between the two countries, especially of locals’ agricultural products.
He told The Post on May 27 that the current Covid atmosphere has muted trade activity in the area. But “the upcoming soft launch will be carried only at the provincial level, not yet officially”, he said.
Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy said more border checkpoints make life easier for locals in the agriculture world, where products can only be stored for so long.
The new gate will trim down transportation and other costs, he said, adding that the two provinces represent vast reservoirs of untapped potential for the agriculture market.
“Establishing many border checkpoints with neighbouring countries is a desire of the private sector, but this also requires the authorities to monitor and enforce the law well to make competition more transparent,” he said.
In a bid to increase trade volume and facilitate sales for people in the region, Cambodia is also preparing to set up two border markets on the frontier with Vietnam in Kampot and Svay Rieng provinces, following in the footsteps of the Phsar Da Border Model Market, which opened at the end of December 2019 in Tbong Khmum province.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Vietnam totalled $2.69 billion in the first quarter of this year, up 103.68 per cent year-on-year, Viet Nam News reported, citing the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Department of Asian-African Markets.
Cambodia’s exports surged 443 per cent year-on-year to $1.47 billion, with cashew nuts clocking in at $711 million (up 497 per cent), natural rubber $318.3 million (up 999 per cent), vegetables $13.3 million (up 48.2 per cent), and iron and steel scrap $10.7 million (up 216.7 per cent).
The Kingdom’s imports climbed by 15.83 per cent year-on-year to $1.22 billion, with iron and steel up 20.8 per cent, apparel 15.5 per cent, oil and gas 18.4 per cent, apparel and footwear materials 10.6 per cent.
Trade between the two countries was worth $3.0196 billion last year, decreasing by 1.13 per cent compared to 2019, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.
Of that, the Kingdom’s exports were to the tune of $385.79 million, up by 14.88 per cent, and imports amounted to $2.63381 million, down by 3.1 per cent.