The $15 billion bilateral trade target between Cambodia and Thailand set for this year will not be reached, but senior officials say they are happy so far.
Trade between the two countries grow by 12 percent in 2019 to $9.4 billion, increasing from $5 billion in 2015, when the leaders of the two countries agreed to triple the bilateral trade to $15 billion in 2020.
Seang Thay, under-secretary of state and spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, said that although the targeted $15 billion bilateral trade would not be reached, trade between the two countries is trending upwards.
“Based on the trade figure in 2019… we will not reach the target of $15 billion in 2020,” Thay said. “But, overall, trade relations are at a good point.”
Last year, Cambodia’s exports to Thailand were valued at $2.27 billion, a 195 percent year-on-year increase, while imports from Thailand were valued at $7.14 billion, a 6 percent decrease.
“Our exports [to Thailand] has been difficult because Thailand is also an agricultural country with products similar to ours and the goods we export to are mostly agricultural,” Seang said. “The value of our exports increasing at this level is a success.”
The relationship between the governments of the two countries, particularly between the two ministries of commerce, has seen strong cooperation that has pushed the value of trade… and we agreed to promote the bilateral trade to further increase it,” Seang said.
Since 2015, the two governments have pushed works to develop a rail line and to reconnect the tracks between the two countries after they were disconnected in the 1960s. This connection will improve trade and reduce the cost of transport.
The rail lines between the two countries were actually reconnected in April but cross-border has not yet started.
According to Ly Borin, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the final agreement to start operations will be made today. “We plan to start running the service in March at the latest to ensure the cross-border rail transportation runs smoothly between Cambodia and Thailand,” Ly said.
Seang said the cross-border transport of goods will facilitate trade activities between two countries and increase two-way trade further.