Cambodia, Thailand: Journey to Achieve Ambitious Bilateral Trade Target

AKP Phnom Penh, July 08, 2019 —

Cambodia’s membership of ASEAN has contributed remarkably to bilateral trade and investment between the Kingdom and neighbouring Thailand, with ongoing joint commitment to forge new trade volume target of US$15 billion by 2020.

The impression was highlighted by Mrs. Vannaporn Ketudat, Deputy Director General, Department of International Trade Promotion at Ministry of Commerce of Thailand in her response to the questions from AKP reporters during our visit to the country recently.

“Cambodia became an ASEAN member on April 30, 1999. Almost two decades later trade volumes between Thailand and Cambodia increased drastically from US$0.369 billion [in 1999] to US$8.3 billion in 2018. That’s more than 2,000 percent growth,” said Mrs. Vannaporn.

According to the Thai official, the US$8 billion was the record breaking bilateral trade volume in the history of the two countries.

“For the first five months of 2019, our trade reached US$3.2 billion, in which Thailand exported US$2.9 billion to Cambodia with 4.5 percent growth, and Cambodia exported about US$0.3 billion to Thailand,” she continued.

While Cambodia exported mainly fruits, vegetables, cable, gems, mineral and clothing to Thailand, Thailand’s major imported products to Cambodia included oil, gems and jewelry, beverages, motors, plastic and cosmetics.

In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), Thailand is currently ranked 9th with about US$1 billion in Cambodia, and as underscored by the deputy director general, almost all of the to-tier companies in Thailand have expanded their business in Cambodia.

Currently, Cambodia is ranked 11th in Thailand’s export after the United States, China, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, Indonesia, India, and Singapore respectively.

As shown in the record of the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, Cambodia stands in the 6th place among ASEAN countries and 2nd among CLMV countries (that include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) for bilateral trade with Thailand.

“For Thai Government, we still continue supporting Thai companies to invest in Cambodia in potential sectors. We have established the ASEAN Economic Community Business Support Centre and the Office of Commercial Affairs in Phnom Penh to provide information regarding trade and investment in Cambodia,” said Mrs. Vannaporn.

Endeavour to promote Cambodia-Thailand bilateral trade, she added, is expected to upsurge with the fruitful outcome of the recent third Joint Cabinet Retreat (JCR) between the two governments, looking ahead to achieving US$15 billion bilateral trade within 2020.

“With the rise of economic cooperation, as well as the expansion of physical connectivity through border checkpoints between Thailand and Cambodia, we hope the trade flow will continue to increase and reach US$15 billion by the year 2020,” wrote H.E. Mr. Panyarak Poolthup, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Thailand to Cambodia, on the embassy’s page.

According to the embassy’s record, there are approximately 400,000 tourists from Thailand visiting Cambodia and approximately 800,000 tourists from Cambodia visiting Thailand, and some 300 Cambodian students receives Thai Royal Scholarship annually, and more than 1.5 million Cambodian workers registered in Thailand.

Established in August 1967, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) toward a shared motto of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”, the bloc is playing a vital role in promoting Cambodia’s trade, especially with Thailand.

This year, the Kingdom of Thailand is the chair of ASEAN focusing on the theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, and it is positive that 2019 achievements of the region will contribute to accelerating bilateral trade and investment between Cambodia and Thailand.

By Mc Soleil & Yea Chenda Khantey