Cambodia-Vietnam Border Pact
Cambodia’s ties with neighboring Vietnam will further improve when both countries sign a border trade agreement to boost commerce, according to an official in the Ministry of Commerce.
Soeng Sophary, the ministry’s spokesperson, told Khmer Times that Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Ministry and Cambodia’s Commerce Ministry are presently in negotiations to finalize the agreement.
“This border trade agreement came about as a result of the prime minister’s visit to Vietnam,” said Ms. Sophary.
Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday concluded his two-day official visit to Vietnam to boost trade between both countries and also discuss pending cross-border issues, including the exchange of prisoners.
“The Cambodia-Vietnam border trade agreement will address current challenges in overland trade between both countries. It will help smoothen import and export issues along the main common border and also at other border corridors,” said Ms. Sophary.
She added that both countries already had clauses for border trade in their formal trading agreements, but those clauses were “at times outdated.”
“This border trade agreement now focuses on issues that are more contemporary to make cross-border trade between Cambodia and Vietnam problem-free and also transparent.”
Total investment capital from Vietnam is $2.86 billion while two-way trade volume between Vietnam and Cambodia topped $3.37 billion in 2015 and $2.38 billion by the end of October this year, according to official figures. In June 2012, both governments pledged to push bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2015. That target, however, had not been reached due to global economic factors.
In July, Cambodia and Vietnam signed an agreement in Phnom Penh to kick-start a border model market in Memot district of Tbong Khmum province, operated by Cambodian and Vietnamese companies. There are hopes that the model market will help facilitate trade flow by land between both countries.
In October, Cambodia called on Vietnam to withdraw quarantine and biosecurity measures for its imports from the Kingdom, to boost bilateral trade to the $5 billion target.
“We want our trade flow [with Vietnam] to increase and also import and export tariffs to be reduced to zero. Most importantly we want Vietnam to do away with technical barriers against our exports, such as stringent sanitary and phytosanitary [SPS] measures to boost bilateral trade further,” said Secretary of State for Commerce Chhuon Dara at the Vietnamese Trade Fair 2016.
SPS measures are the World Trade Organization’s quarantine and biosecurity requirements to protect human and animal health from risks arising from the introduction of pests and diseases. It also prevents health risks arising from additives, toxins and contaminants in food and feed.
“I think that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Vietnam will soon reach $5 billion. Because of this, we have to ensure that barriers like SPS measures are removed,” said Mr. Dara.
Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council, told Khmer Times that though Cambodia’s trade relationship with Vietnam was important, it was important for the Kingdom to also strengthen commercial ties with other neighboring countries.
“We also need to have strong bilateral trade ties with Laos, Thailand and other countries in Asean. There must be a balance and only then can we compete in a level playing field,” said Mr. Kalyan.
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