Cambodia has plenty of potential to become a large rice exporter, and should consider measures such as a free trade area on its borders to boost trade, according to a Thai official.
Speaking at a Phnom Penh meeting with members of the Thailand Rice Exporters’ Association, Niyom Wairatpanij, vice chairman of Thailand’s Board of Trade, urged the Kingdom to overcome its obstacles to increase rice exports.
“I think Cambodia has a lot of potential to become a [major] rice exporter in the near future,” he said. “But in the meantime, I think you still lack infrastructure, and electricity and logistics costs are very high compared to Thailand.”
Those costs are “more than double,” Niyom Wairatpanij said.
Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said the country was working on these issues, pointing to work on railway to better connect the Kingdom with Thailand and neighbouring countries.
He also said the lack of quota limitations and duty-free status Cambodia enjoys in the European Union makes processing and exporting rice from here “much more attractive.”
Niyom Wairatpanij also urged Cambodia to set up a free-trade zone at the border to allow for a free flow of goods between the countries, but Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh rejected the idea, saying the recent border clashes would make that difficult.
Korbsook Ian Suri, president of the Thai Rice Exporters’ Association, said that after a few days touring Cambodia and meeting rice millers and government officials, she did see opportunities for future investment.