After a year of construction, the $2-million, Vietnam-funded border market in Tboung Khmum province will have its official launch next Tuesday, the government announced on Monday.
The market is seen as an important tool to boost trade along the border with Vietnam.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen said he will preside over the launching ceremony together with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Called ‘Da Market’ due to its location in Tboung Khmum province’s Da commune, Cambodia’s first-ever border market occupies about two hectares of land in the Thary Tbaung Khmum Special Economic Zone, about one kilometre from the nearest Cambodia-Vietnam border crossing.
The project broke ground in January. The market was first proposed in 2013 but was postponed multiple times. In July 2017, Cambodian and Vietnamese officials signed a memorandum of understanding to kick-start the project.
It has cost an estimated $2 million to build, funded by the Vietnamese government through a grant.
Mr Hun Sen said on Monday the market is located at the site of a battle that took place in 1971, adding that the government is seeking a “win-win approach” by turning areas along borders into development or trade hubs.
“Our goal is to transform all former battlefields along borders into development and commercial areas,” he said, noting that Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet, in the border with Thailand, was once also the site of a battle, but that is now experiencing rapid economic growth.
Mao Thora, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said the model market will help facilitate trade between Cambodia and Vietnam.
“It will also play a role in reducing poverty on both sides of the border and help traders build bigger networks,” he said, adding that Vietnamese traders will mostly sell processed foods, while Cambodia will focus on agricultural products.
Vu Quang Minh, the Vietnamese ambassador to Cambodia, previously said the project aims to build up trade infrastructure in the border to promote economic and trade exchanges and raise the living standards of locals.
Mr Quang Minh said it is a place to buy, sell, exchange and transit goods produced in Kratie, Kampong Cham, Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri to meet demand in Vietnam.
“With its great location, Da Market will boost trading between our nations,” he said, noting that it will be a convenient place where people living on the border can shop and sell goods.
From January to October, two-way trade between Cambodia and Vietnam reached $4.4 billion, an increase of 13.8 percent.
The increase brings trade figures closer to Cambodia and Vietnam’s shared goal. Both governments have agreed to increase bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2020.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said this week that trade between the neighbouring nations already exceeds that target.