Cambodia's exports to Thailand jumped 55 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2012 on what experts and officials said was a smoother political relationship between the countries, as well as an easing of Thai border regulations.
The Kingdom shipped US$85.4 million in agricultural products, recycled metal and fish to the western neighbour, data from the Thai Embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office to Phnom Penh showed.
On par were increases in imports from Thailand, which dominated the bilateral trade relationship.
Worth $1.05 billion, imports of petroleum, processed goods, cement and consumer products from Thailand increased 58.4 per cent during the same period.
“Now Cambodia’s economy is doing well and Thailand’s economy is improving. But more important is that the political relationship between the two countries is improving,” Jiranan Wongmongkol, an official at the trade promotion office, said yesterday.
Trade, particularly energy exports to Thailand, were set to increase during the next three years.
The completion of a $3 billion coal-fired power station in Koh Kong province, a joint venture between Cambodian tycoon Ly Yong Phat and Thailand’s Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Plc, would see Cambodia’s first energy exports.
In early February, thousands of tonnes of cassava and other agricultural exports were stopped from entering Thailand, the Post reported at the time. Since then, border restrictions have been resolved, but not before diverting trade to Vietnam.
Thai business associations most likely created the stoppage, not government directives, business and economics lecturer at the University of Cambodia Chheng Kimlong said yesterday.
Such regulation would violate World Trade Organization rules, he said.
“If we could show that it was the government that was backing [the regulations], this would be against WTO policy. So we could accuse them of this.
But this wasn’t the case,” he said.
Further diversification of Cambodian exports would lead to less trade with Thailand, Chheng Kimlong said. Exports to Vietnam, China, and Malaysia – which officials have hailed as more stable markets – would take priority over exports to Thailand, he said.
Despite political progress, there was still uncertainty over the future of the Cambodia-Thailand relationship, Chheng Kimlong added.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]