THAI-Cambodian border trade continued as normal despite the escalating war of words between the two countries in the wake of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent decision to appoint his ousted Thai counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic advisor.
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Friday his government would “maybe seal off all border checkpoints”, if Cambodia did not reverse its decision. Both countries also recalled their ambassadors last week, and tensions were ratcheted up further Tuesday as Thaksin landed in Phnom Penh.
Koh Kong provincial Governor Yuth Phouthang said Tuesday that traders continued to operate normally. Construction materials, processed foods and fruit were making the daily journey across the border from Thailand, while Cambodia continued to export fish and agricultural products, he said.
He added that Thailand would be the hardest hit by any closure as most traded goods emanated from there. “If the border closed, we won’t see any bad impact on us because Thailand mostly exports,” he said.
Thailand’s exports to the Kingdom were worth just over US$1 billion in the first eight months of the year, a drop of 30.29 percent on the same period last year, according to figures from the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh.
In Banteay Meanchey province, Kim Heng, deputy chief of Immigration Police at the Boeung Trakoun checkpoint, also said activity had continued unchanged.
Thai cabinet spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn moved to defuse the situation Tuesday. “We have no plan to close the border,” he told the Post.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STEVE FINCH