Thai-Cambodian trade will miss $15bn target this year

Thai-Cambodian trade will miss $15bn target this year

The Sihanoukville deep-sea port lays a vital role in the trade relations between Cambodia and Thailand. (Khmer Times photo)
The Sihanoukville deep-sea port lays a vital role in the trade relations between Cambodia and Thailand. (Khmer Times photo)

PHNOM PENH: The US$15 billion bilateral trade target between Cambodia and Thailand set for this year will not be reached, but senior officials say they are happy so far.

Trade between the two countries grew by 12% in 2019 to $9.4 billion, increasing from $5 billion in 2015, when the leaders of the two countries agreed to triple the bilateral trade to $15 billion in 2020.

Seang Thay, under-secretary of state and Commerce Ministry spokesman, said that although the targeted $15 billion bilateral trade would not be reached, trade between the two countries is trending upwards, the Khmer Times reported on Friday.

“Based on the trade figure in 2019… we will not reach the target of $15 billion in 2020,” Thay said. “But, overall, trade relations are at a good point.”

Last year, Cambodia’s exports to Thailand were valued at $2.27 billion, a 195% year-on-year increase, while imports from Thailand were valued at $7.14 billion, a 6% decrease.

“Our exports [to Thailand] has been difficult because Thailand is also an agricultural country with products similar to ours and the goods we export to are mostly agricultural,” Seang said. “The value of our exports increasing at this level is a success.”

The relationship between the governments of the two countries, particularly between the two ministries of commerce, has seen strong cooperation that has pushed the value of trade… and we agreed to promote the bilateral trade to further increase it,” Seang said.

Since 2015, the two governments have pushed works to develop a rail line and to reconnect the tracks between the two countries after they were disconnected in the 1960s. This connection will improve trade and reduce the cost of transport.

The rail lines between the two countries were actually reconnected in April but cross-border has not yet started.

According to Ly Borin, under-secretary of state at the  Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the final agreement to start operations will be made on Friday. “We plan to start running the service in March at the latest to ensure the cross-border rail transportation runs smoothly between Cambodia and Thailand,” Ly said.

Seang said the cross-border transport of goods will facilitate trade activities between two countries and increase two-way trade further.

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