Cambodia and Vietnam have pledged to lift up bilateral trade to $7 billion this year by facilitating cross-border shipments amid tightened measures at border checkpoints to prevent the outbreak of the Covid-19 disease.
This is up from the previous target of “more than $5 billion” made by Prime Minister Hun Sen in December.
The vow was made last week during a telephone conversation between Hun Sen and Nguyen Phu Trong, the secretary-general of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The two countries are to enhance information exchange and mutual support in controlling Covid-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks, work together and improve cross-border services for freight and passenger transport, Hun Sen said, as reported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Thursday.
“The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work closely in promoting communication and good neighbourliness and strengthen all-round cooperation to develop economic and investment relations between the two countries,” he said.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on Monday that cross-border freight traffic remained normal despite both sides striving to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19.
He said: “There are no issues in transporting goods across the Cambodia-Vietnam border now, with our agricultural exports shipping out in greater numbers in recent months.
“Both sides are studying the potential establishment of special economic zones [SEZs] along the borders.
“Trade exchange between the two countries stands to increase, contingent on the great efforts of the two governments.”
But Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath was not so optimistic. “I believe that the bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Vietnam will not be able to reach the target because global economic downturn has reduced demand,” he said.
Bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached $2.17 billion in the first five months of this year, down 8.1 per cent from the year-ago period, said the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh citing data from the General Department of Customs of Vietnam.
The Kingdom exported $476 million worth of goods to Vietnam (down 15 per cent year-on-year) and imported $1.7 billion (down six per cent).
Cambodia mainly exported paddy, milled rice, cashew nuts, natural rubber, tobacco leaves and bananas and imported steel, oil, vegetables, fruits and agricultural fertilisers.
Bilateral trade between the countries was nearly $5.3 billion last year, up 11 per cent from 2018. The Kingdom exported $901 million (up seven per cent) and imported $4.4 billion (up 16 per cent).