THE postponed 2nd Thailand Trade Exhibition 2011 will not be reorganised this year due to budget restrictions, according to Jiranan Wongmongkol, commercial counsellor based at the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.
The trade fair was originally scheduled for May 19 to 22 at Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island Exhibition Centre, but was postponed May 13 by order of Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh.
In the May letter addressed to the Charge d’Affaires of the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, he said that the event would be postponed until a “more favourable time comes.”
Highlighting restrictions on border trade imposed by Thai Military Region 2 following border violence between the two countries, the minister said: “I am of the opinion that this is not the right time to promote Thai products in Cambodia. We cannot guarantee the reaction of Cambodian visitors to such exhibition after such bad behaviour.”
Yesterday, Jiranan Wongmongkol said the embassy would like to push forward with the trade fair, but financial considerations had caused it to be delayed until 2012.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to schedule another trade fair for this year as the budget has now been spent,” she said.
The commerce council, which is to fund the trade fair, is set to receive a new budget at the turn of 2012, she added.
“With the election of the new government and gradual improvements to bilateral relations, we expect to hold more exhibitions next year.”
At the first Thai trade fair in 2011, held in Phnom Penh in February, businesses from both countries proposed measures to increase cross-border trade, along with the creating small and medium-sized enterprise clinics in both countries.
However, the recent change in the government in Bangkok has delayed some proposals, though there has been a noticeable increase in small and medium enterprises setting up shop in either country, she said.
While several Ministry of Commerce officials declined to comment yesterday, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said last month that he expects the election of the Puea Thai government to improve bilateral trade between the neighbouring countries.
“I do believe that our trade relations will improve, as well as the armed confrontation on the border,” he said.
He added that trade exhibitions are beneficial in increasing trade.
Bilateral trade hit US$1.43 billion in the first six months of 2011, an increase of around 1 percent on the same period last year, according to Foreign Trade Promotion Office figures.
While Thailand’s exports to the Kingdom rose 3 percent to US$1.332 billion in the first half of the year, Cambodia’s shipments dropped 18 percent in the same period year-on-year to $98 million, the statistics show.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KONG META