Cambodia and Thailand yesterday agreed to seek more strategies to boost bilateral trade, cross border development and investment to achieve the target of $15 billion in trade exchange between the two Asean neighbours by 2020.
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Both countries also reached an agreement on double tax avoidance and preventing the declaration of fraudulent income to avoid tax at the Third Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
The meeting was co-chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.
At the joint press conference, Mr Hun Sen said both countries had also agreed to open more border crossings to improve cross-border trade as well as to attract more investment.
“Regarding connectivity at the border, more open border points would facilitate trade activities as well as improve people-to-people relationships,” said Mr Hun Sen.
“Our Thai counterpart has been helping us by buying agricultural products from Cambodia. When there were difficulties with our agricultural products, our Thai counterparts also helped us by buying more,” added the premier.
“Now is the right time to think about more issues concerning business, investment and the economy.”
Gen Prayut said Thailand would keep supporting Cambodia’s agricultural sector by buying more agricultural products from the kingdom and help expedite joint border development, as well as to find ways to meet the pledged $15 billion bilateral trade exchange by 2020.
The Second Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat took place in Bangkok, in December 2015, under the co-chairmanship of the two countries’ premiers. At the 2015 meeting both governments agreed to triple the current bilateral trade volume from $5 billion to $15 billion by 2020.
“For the goal of our bilateral trade reaching $15 billion by 2020, we will find new strategies to spur our trade exchange to make it even more bigger,” he said.
Gen Prayut said measures were in place to make it easier for Cambodian companies to transport their products via Thailand to a third country.
“In order to make it more timely and easy, we will soon pass a new customs law in Thailand that will help Cambodian businessmen who want to export to third countries via Thailand,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen and Gen Prayut also agreed to protect investors who were keen to invest in both Cambodia and Thailand.
Both countries signed the agreement on double tax avoidance and preventing the declaration of fraudulent income to avoid tax, which are fundamental to foreign direct investment and foreign technology transfer.
“We do pledge together to bring development to our countries in a sustainable manner. We do hope that both countries will walk together and not leave anyone behind for the prosperity of the other,” Gen Prayut said.
Anthony Galliano, founder and CEO of Cambodian Investment Management, said that the successful execution of the double tax avoidance agreement with Thailand “is a monumental achievement for the general department of taxation”.
“The agreement should foster increased trade with Cambodia’s largest trading partner among neighboring countries,” said Mr Galliano.
“There has been a historical and substantial trade deficit with Thailand, mainly due to the concentration of the garment industry as the kingdom’s largest exporter, which greatly skews exports to US and Europe,” he added.
Last year, the bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand reached at $5.6 billion, a $100 million rise compared with 2015.