The commerce minister has once again called on Thailand to consider giving access to Cambodian agricultural products to transit to the Thai port of Laem Chabang before being exported to a third country.
The minister also called for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed between the two countries to ensure the flow of trade through the port.
Speaking to a group of Thai businesspeople from the Thai Business Council in Cambodia, Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said Cambodia and Thailand should have an MoU to facilitate the transit of agricultural products from Cambodia to third countries.
At present there is no agreement to export Cambodian agricultural products through Thai ports, while Cambodian agricultural products are not allowed to have access or be transited to Thai ports.
“I once asked the Thai commerce minister when I attended the CLMVT meeting last month, and at that time they asked for a discussion. We have already submitted the relevant documents to my Thai counterpart on what we did with Vietnam. Now we are waiting for their response,” Mr. Sorasak said.
The commerce minister said if there is no agreement it would be a setback for Cambodia as it is difficult for local producers to export their products through the Preah Sihanouk port as it is far from the production areas.
Mr. Sorasak added that Cambodia would not take its agricultural products to sell in Thailand and would only move its goods to the Thai port to export to third countries. The majority of Cambodia’s agricultural products are cultivated in areas close to the Thai border, such as Battambang, Pailin and Banteay Meanchey provinces.
Therefore, it would save time and costs to export those products to other countries through Thailand, he said.
“Now we rely solely on Thai companies and Thai ports to export all our agricultural products from Cambodia to third countries, so we want to export our products to third parties by Cambodian companies and transit to the Thai port of Laem Chabang,” Mr. Sorasak said.
Song Saran, the president of Amru Rice (Cambodia), told Khmer Times that if Thailand approves and lets Cambodian agricultural products access the Thai port, exports of agricultural products from Cambodia will increase.
He said the northern and western provinces find it hard to transport cargo or agricultural products from the production sites to the port at Sihanoukville as it costs a lot of money and takes time.
“We are happy on what the Ministry of Commerce does, and hope it will be successful.” Mr. Saran said. “We have yet to have any agricultural products access the Thai port, as they don’t allow it. But if they approve, we will do it since we have a factory in Battambang province,” he added.
Mr. Saran said the Thai government allowed only Thai factories or Japanese factories in Cambodia to access the Thai port. It is for Thai businesses and serves Thai interests.
Mey Kalyan, a senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council, said he highly appreciated the commerce ministry for its hard work in seeking a solution to export agricultural products from Cambodia to the Thai port.
It will benefit the western and northern provinces of Cambodia, including Banteay Meanchey, Pursat and Batttambang, which border Thailand.
“It is good, but our Thai counterparts are the ones who will decide whether to open up to Cambodia or not. It is for the benefit of each country,” Mr. Kalyan said.
“If we could connect to the Thai port it would be great and we can export our products at a cheaper cost.”