Thai-Cambodian trade sees steady growth

Thai-Cambodian trade sees steady growth

The Aranyaprathet checkpoint in Sa Kaeo province is a key border trade post between Thailand and Cambodia. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
The Aranyaprathet checkpoint in Sa Kaeo province is a key border trade post between Thailand and Cambodia. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Two-way trade between Cambodia and Thailand rose steadily during the first half of the year, according to a report from the Thai Business Council of Cambodia (TBCC).

Bilateral trade increased by 7% year-on-year in the first half of this year, reaching roughly $4.1 billion, the Khmer Times on Wednesday quoted the TBCC's report as saying.

From January to June, Cambodian exports to its neighbour amounted to $685 million, a whopping 52% hike. By contrast, imports from Thailand rose by just 1% to reach $3.4 billion.

Cambodia mainly exported agricultural products such as corn, cassava, and soybeans, while it imported machinery, electronic equipment, fuel oil, construction materials, cosmetics and home appliances from Thailand.

The two countries have pledged on multiple occasions to increase bilateral trade to $15 billion a year by 2020. It is unlikely that the goal will be achieved since last year’s trade amounted to less than $8.5 billion.

“We will probably not be able to reach our goal next year despite the rapid growth bilateral trade is experiencing,” Seang Thay, Ministry of Commerce spokesman, told the Khmer Times on Tuesday.

Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to grow bilateral trade by about 30% a year, he noted.

In 2018, trade grew by about 35.5%, Thay said, adding that in 2019, the ministry expects that $9 billion worth of goods will be exchanged.

He said the number of Cambodian agricultural goods that reach the Thai market is still relatively small and urged Thai authorities to increase efforts to facilitate such exports.

Last year the two countries signed a ‘Growth Strategy of Border Provinces’ Economic Cooperation’, seeking to facilitate trade and investment along the border, Thay said.

He said more and more Thai business people are setting up factories in Cambodia.

“With strong economic growth and political stability, Thai investors have started to build factories inside Cambodia rather than exporting from Thailand,” he noted.

Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, attributed the strong growth in bilateral trade to Cambodia’s robust economic performance, which was backed by solid growth in construction and tourism.

“Our economy has been performing very well while our people keep on spending, particularly in two main sectors, construction and tourism,” he noted.

“We imported a lot of construction materials, foodstuffs and consumer goods from Thailand because we simply could not produce enough to meet domestic demand,” Heng added.

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