Cambodia and Thailand agreed to reopen three regional border checkpoints in Battambang province on March 23 to facilitate trade.

Battambang Provincial Administration deputy governor Soeum Bunrith told The Post the following day that goods began to flow across the checkpoints on the same day of the agreement.

He identified the crossings as O’Anlok in Kamrieng district, O’Romduol in Phnom Proek district – linking to Soi Dao district in Thailand’s Chanthaburi province – and International Border Gate No 400 in Samlot district – connecting to Trat province’s Bo Rai district.

“We opened these checkpoints to allow goods produced by farmers [into Thailand] such as cassava, Keo Romiet mangoes and red corn. With the harvest season underway, we knew we had to sort things out for farmers.

“Opening up [the checkpoints] to goods traffic will prop up the livelihoods of the people in the border areas by setting up markets for them,” Bunrith said.

Provincial governor Nguon Rattanak stressed in a March 19 letter that the checkpoints would only be open to trade and to Cambodian and Thai nationals, who must comply with Covid-19 prevention measures.

“The exchange and loading of goods must be done in the vicinity of each border gate. Freight passes through the gates from 8am to 5pm,” he said, adding that no more than two people would be allowed per vehicle.

Provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout told The Post earlier this month that cassava exports to Thailand were about 100,000 tonnes in January-February.

The average per-kilogramme price of dried cassava in the province had surged by 200 riel ($0.05) year-on-year to 870 riel, he said, adding that 80 per cent of the province’s production is exported to Thailand.

The recent “floods have led to a decline in cassava yields but improved markets and prices this year”, Hout said.

The trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand reached $7.236 billion last year, tumbling 23.17 per cent from 2019, primarily due to the economic disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Thai Ministry of Commerce.

Statistics show that Cambodia exported $1.148 billion in merchandise to Thailand in 2020, down 49.49 per cent year-on-year, and imported $6.089 billion, down 14.80 per cent from 2019.

And according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Thailand is among the nine biggest investors in Cambodia, pumping $967.89 million in foreign direct investment into the country between 1994 and the end of the third quarter of 2017.