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Seafood standoff in Poipet

Vendors block the Poipet International Border Checkpoint by dumping nearly 1,000 kilograms of fish in the street in protest against a Thai tariff increase. Photo supplied
Vendors block the Poipet International Border Checkpoint by dumping nearly 1,000 kilograms of fish in the street in protest against a Thai tariff increase. Photo supplied

Seafood standoff in Poipet

Angered by Thailand’s decision to increase the tariff on fish imports, about 100 Cambodian fish vendors blocked the Poipet International Border Checkpoint on Thursday and dumped nearly 1,000 kilos of fish on the road.

Many Cambodian vendors transport their wares to the Thai border each morning, where they had paid a tariff of about 9 cents per kilo.

But recently, Thai customs officials nearly quadrupled the price to 34 cents per kilo, sparking protests among the vendors, who demanded that the fee be reduced. The vendors blocked the Poipet border yesterday morning, causing a traffic jam that lasted from 9am to noon.

Roth Tha, a 40-year-old vendor, said the increase is excessive, especially for vendors who sell hundreds of kilos of fish each day. “A vendor doesn’t sell just one kilo of fish, we sell 200 kilograms or more,” Tha explained. “We cannot accept this new tariff … If we have one bad day of sales, then we won’t even make a profit.”

Sam Nang, a 39-year-old fish vendor, called on Thai and Cambodian officials to help small-scale vendors who support their families.

Meanwhile, Mang Puthy, director of the Cambodia Informal Economy Reinforced Association, argued that Thai officials have no compassion for Cambodian vendors.

“The Thais increase the tariffs by however much they want. They don’t take pity on the Cambodian vendors who work in their territory,” he said.

Thai and Cambodian officials are expected to meet today to discuss the fee, confirmed Poipet governor Ngor Meng Chroun.

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