Thailand newly minted Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin held talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Manet and other senior officials during his one-day visit to Cambodia on September 28, his first visit to an ASEAN country since taking office in August.
Both Manet and Thavisin, who were appointed as prime ministers on August 22, congratulated each other when they met at the Peace Palace, where Srettha officially handed over the operation of the Transit and Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Human Trafficking and Vulnerable Groups.
“The two leaders discussed in a close manner on a wide range of topics involving Cambodia and Thailand cooperation on various aspects, with a focus on key sectors such as trade, investment, education, vocational training, and diplomatic, business and people-to-people relations,” according to Manet’s social media channel.
The talks also touched on connectivity between both countries through air, rail and road, digital economy, green economy, migrant protection and cross-border and cyber crimes. Both Manet and Thavisin instructed relevant state entities in respective countries to continue working together to ensure that Cambodia-Thailand cooperation was fruitful and mutually beneficial. The leaders also upheld high values of Cambodia-Thailand cooperation and are confident that their diplomatic relationship will grow stronger.
Following a luncheon with Manet, Thavisin laid a wreath at the Independence Monument and the memorial of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
He met with National Assembly president Khuon Sudary before he departed later in the evening.
He also paid a courtesy call on former Prime Minister Hun Sen and Senate President Say Chhum.
Thavisin’s choice to first visit Cambodia in ASEAN will further strengthen both countries’ bond of friendship and elevate multifaceted cooperation between the nations, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“Guided by the spirit of ‘Enhanced Partnership for Peace and Prosperity’, the visit is expected to deliver mutual benefits to citizens of both nations and contribute to the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity within the ASEAN Community and beyond,” it said in a statement.
Thavisin took to X (formerly Twitter) to inform that he and Manet shared the same goals to strengthen their relationship in every dimension.
“We will promote trade cooperation, tourism, investment, border area development and new economic sectors. We [will] jointly facilitate the growth of trade volume to reach the goal of $15 billion by 2025, including pushing cross-border transportation by expediting the opening of the Friendship Bridge at Ban Nong Ian-Stung Bot,” he tweeted.
Pointing out that Thailand and Cambodia would continue increasing cooperation in medical and health tourism, Thavisin said he recommended that Cambodia allow temporary border passes to promote tourism along the border. “This will encourage more investment between us. We will also support our SMEs and new generation entrepreneurs in both countries,” he said.
Between January and May this year, both kingdoms traded merchandise to the tune of $1.7 billion. However, it was an 8.8 per cent year-on-year dip due the global economic slowdown, Cambodia’s General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) stated.
Based on the data, Cambodia’s exports to Thailand reached $480.2 million, up 9.5 per cent year-on-year, while imports dropped 14.4 per cent to $1.2 billion, narrowing the trade deficit between the two nations by 24.9 per cent on an annual basis to $744.5 million.
Meanwhile, Thavisin thanked the Cambodian government for composing a song for him during the visit, and also Thai people who met him during his visit here. “The song is very beautiful and the content of the song very much reflects our relationship,” he said.
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, opined that Thavisin’s visit to Cambodia as his first ASEAN trip demonstrates how much he values the bilateral relationship.
“This value stems from the foundation built by the families of former Prime Ministers Hun Sen and Thaksin Shinawatra, and the relationship between Pheu Thai Party and Cambodian People’s Party, as well as at the national level,” Peou said.