Cambodia and Thailand have agreed to support a development project that would convert three border corridors into permanent border gates in order to facilitate trade and the crossing of people from both countries.
The agreement was made during a meeting of the Cambodia-Thailand General Border Committee in Thailand on Tuesday and Wednesday between Defence Minister Tea Banh and his Thai counterpart Prawit Wongsuwan.
Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Sucheat said he had not received detailed information about the opening of the border gates, but noted that generally, the opening of border gates was conducted in many phases.
“The defence ministries of the two countries agree in principle to open the border gates and then the General Commissions have to make a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.
“There are more procedures for opening border gates, such as checking border lines and determining where to put the checkpoints, which cannot be done by the Defence Ministry alone,” he added.
One of the three proposed border gates is in the Ban Khao Din area of Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, next to a rural area in Cambodia’s Battambang province, while the other two border gate locations are in the Gulf of Thailand in Buriram and Trat provinces.
Yong Run, a resident living near the Thma Da border gate in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district, said authorities allowed residents to pass through three days a week to take goods or agricultural products to sell in Thailand and also return with purchased goods.
He added that few residents actually brought any goods to Thailand, but most returned with goods.
“If the government opens a permanent border checkpoint for people to pass every day, it will be good for people who have a business so they can import products to sell,” he said.
According to the Interior Ministry’s 2017 annual report, Cambodia currently has 82 border gates including three international airports, three international ports, 23 international border gates, 14 bilateral border gates, 29 border gates and 10 seaports.
Rong Chhun, former president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association who has monitored Cambodia’s border issues, said the decision of the Cambodian and Thai governments to open the border gates would facilitate trade between both sides.
“Opening these gates may reduce illegal crossings and give people the opportunity to seek work in neighbouring countries, but immigration must be managed carefully,” he said.