Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai-Cambodian trade rose by 28pc in 2008

Thai-Cambodian trade rose by 28pc in 2008

Thai-Cambodian trade rose by 28pc in 2008

090115_13.jpg
090115_13.jpg

But analysts warn that the strong trade figures could disguise a drop in the second half of 2008 that followed the Preah Vihear border dispute

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

Cambodian traders crossing the border checkpoint at the Poipet crossing into Thailand.

EVEN with border tensions over the Preah Vihear temples still simmering, trade between Thailand and Cambodia grew at a brisk 28 percent in 2008, a commerce official said Monday.

"Despite the border problems since July, trade between the two countries has been strong, and reached US$1.8 billion in 2008 from $1.4 billion in 2007," Mao Thora, a secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, told the Post.

But most of the trade increase was in the form of Thai exports to Cambodia, with Cambodia exporting only $200 million to Thailand.

He said that Cambodia exported mainly agricultural products such as grain, tobacco, leather, rubber, wood and recyclable trash, while Thailand exported cars, construction materials, petrol, beverages, food products and electronics to Cambodia.

For 2009, Mao Thora predicted that trade volume will match last year's figures, or grow slightly.

"I believe that trade between Cambodia and Thailand will not decline, especially after Prime Minister Hun Sen attends the Asean summit in Hua Hin next month. This will create better trade relations between the two countries."

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association, said Tuesday that the strong figures could conceal a drop in bilateral trade that followed the border dispute in the second half of 2008.

He said that the conflict and ongoing political instability Thailand may have led many Cambodian companies to use alternative suppliers.

"Thai products are easily substituted with products other countries," Chan Sophal said.   

Turning to Vietnam

The government has not yet released 2008 bilateral trade figures with Vietnam, but the conflict with Thailand and the recent signing of bilateral trade and visa agreements is expected to boost volumes.

A bilateral agreement was signed on November 4 allowing visa-free travel between the two countries, and five trade and investment agreements were inked during an official  visit to Vietnam later that month.

"We expect Cambodia-Vietnam trade volume will be comparable to Cambodia- Thailand trade," Chan Sophal said.

He said that in 2007, bilateral trade with Vietnam totaled $1.2 billion and is expected to exceed $2 billion in 2010 as Cambodia increases its production of rice, cassava and rubber, and institutes stringent new anti-smuggling measures.

Officials also expect the establishment of special economic zones on the border will boost trade and commerce with Vietnam.

MOST VIEWED

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said