Trade between Cambodia and Thailand declined by about 2.5 per cent in the first quarter this year, as the appreciation of the Thai baht led to a slowdown in Thai exports, officials said yesterday.
Total bilateral trade reached $1.1 billion in the first three months of the year, according to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.
Jiranun Wongmonkol, ministry counselor at the Office of Commercial Affairs at the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the strengthing baht had led consumers in Cambodia to look elsewhere.
“The appreciation of the Thai baht compared to the US dollar results in the prices of Thai products increasing by about 10 to 20 per cent on the Cambodian market,” she said. “Instead of purchasing Thai commodities, some consumers tend to use products from other [countries], even if the quality is lower.”
The Thai currency has strengthened from 32 baht to the US dollar early last year to a present rate of about 28 to the greenback.
The Thai government has been urgently trying to stabilise the rising baht as key export industries such as sugar start to suffer.
On Saturday Thai Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said the rapidly strengthening baht had affected exporters, employment and purchasing power.
Thai embassy data shows that Cambodia’s exports to Thailand increased by 19 per cent to $101 million, while Thailand’s export to the Kingdom declined by about 4 per cent to $1 billion.
Thailand ships petroleum, processed goods, consumer products, construction materials and cosmetics to Cambodia, while Cambodia primarily exports agricultural products and fishing products.
During the fourth meeting of the Cambodia-Thailand joint trade committee in Phnom Penh early last week, Cambodia and Thailand agreed to further promote bilateral trade. The countries aim to boost trade by 30 per cent per annum.
“We’re trying to increase our bilateral trade and economic ties regardless of border conflict,” Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh told reporters after the meeting, which was also attended by Thai Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom.
Trade between the two nations was valued at $3.8 billion last year, an increase of 40 per cent year-on-year.