Sadao checkpoint to open 24 hrs
Malaysia, Thai sides keen to ease trade blockages
Thailand and Malaysia have agreed to extend the operating hours of the Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Checkpoints to 24 hours for a three-month trial period, starting from April 1 this year, to reduce congestion at the border.
The agreement was reached during a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries, as Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Saifuddin Abdullah visited Thailand on Saturday.
Mr Saifuddin said he believed the agreement will help ease imports and exports along the border as well as ease trade traffic in rush hours.
"At present, both Thai and Malaysian entrepreneurs along the border can only trade when the border checkpoints are open. They have to wait for goods, which is not good for their businesses. This agreement will help them run their businesses more smoothly," Mr Saifuddin said.
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Thailand and Malaysia were committed to promoting seamless connectivity along the shared border by working together on infrastructure, logistics and cross-border passage, adding the extension of operating hours at Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam was just one of many more such moves to come.
During an official visit to Thailand last year, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir also agreed with the Thai side to push connectivity project developments such as the two bridges crossing the Kolok River, one connecting Su-ngai Kolok of Narathiwat with Rantau Panjang, and the other connecting Tak Bai of Narathiwat with Pengkalan Kubor.
"We are certain that such connectivity will lessen the development gaps and bring our two peoples closer," Mr Don said.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, Malaysia is Thailand's largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the fourth largest overall.
Bilateral trade between the nations has grown at an average of 10.54% annually during the past five years. The value of cross-border trade between Thailand and Malaysia for the last year is US$26.5 billion (841 billion baht), with border trade alone accounting for more than 60% of total trade.
Aside from connectivity, the foreign ministers also discussed security cooperation and sustainable development.
On security cooperation, Mr Don said he thanked his Malaysian counterpart Mr Saifuddin for his understanding of the situation in the southern border provinces.
He said both nations stressed the importance of working together to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation for the sake of greater harmony along the border.
"The strengthening of our cooperation will make it harder for cross-border smuggling and other forms of transnational crimes to flourish," Mr Don said.
On sustainable development, Mr Don said both countries now share common visions to promote the "Sustainability of Things", particularly with emphasis on promoting quality education as young people are seen as the key to the future.