Despite some reports, Cambodian officials said Cambodia and Thailand have not yet set a date for implementing the Ayeyarwady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) single visa.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said a single visa scheme for all five countries in the ACMECS organisation is in the works, but Cambodia and Thailand are the first two countries with the will to pilot the arrangement in the hopes of boosting tourism.
Previously, Thai officials proposed a November 21 launch date for the visa, but Cambodia suggested additional operational arrangements need to be made before implementation.
So far, both countries have not yet finalised the additional operational arrangements.
“When we agree on the additional operational arrangements, then we can implement,” he said. “So far, we haven’t reached [an] agreement on them,” he added.
“We need to negotiate on some points leading to a common agreement,” he said. “At first, we set to implement temporarily between Cambodia and Thailand, but we’re yet to determine when it will be implemented,” he added.
When asked about which country will see the greatest benefit from the agreement, Koy Kuong said: “I confirm that once implemented, it doesn’t mean that we lose, and he [Thailand] benefits, or that he loses and we benefit.
“What it means is that when we provide visas to them, they can enter Thailand. Or, when Thailand provides the visa, they can also enter Cambodia. They still need to pay an entry fee at the border gates,” said tourism minister Thong Khon.
An article published by the Bangkok Post on Saturday said Pol Lt Gen Panu Kerdlappol, Thailand’s immigration bureau chief, confirmed the plan will be implemented by November 21 while inspecting the readiness of his immigration officers and computer systems.
Koy Kuong did not yet know whether technical works were ready for implementing the single visa.
The single visa between Thailand and Cambodia will help to boost the tourism sector, which is becoming the main revenue generator for the Cambodian economy, according to Thong Khon, who noted that the single visa is for citizens of countries outside the ASEAN region.
“This is so good and we are waiting for [this for a] long time,” he said, adding that “single visa is not for ASEAN citizens, but it is for citizens of other regions”.
The Bangkok Post article said about 4,800 Thais and 1,300 Cambodians as well as 1,250 foreign visitors travel through the Poipet border checkpoint every day.
Jiranun Wongmongkol, minister counselor at the Office of Commercial Affairs in the Royal Embassy of Thailand, said the memorandum of understanding on the single visa was signed a long time ago, but she did not know specific details on the November 21 implementation.
The Thai official responsible for the implementation of the single visa could not be reached for comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]