Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ambassador to Thailand discusses trade

Ambassador to Thailand discusses trade

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn expressed his optimism about trade relations with Thailand as bilateral trade continues to increase every year. May Kunmakara

Ambassador to Thailand discusses trade

Cambodia and Thailand aim to attain $15 billion in two-way trade by the end of this year, an ambitious goal given that last year’s trade was worth $9 billion.

To find out how the countries plan to achieve this, May Kunmakara spoke with Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn.

Q: The Thai embassy in Cambodia recently held a trade exhibition in Phnom Penh to boost trade and investment between the two countries. How did it go?

Sorphorn: This event was an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs and traders from both countries to meet potential partners and expand their markets.

It was an important step towards achieving our ambitious bilateral trade goals. The event also contributed to Cambodia’s integration into regional and global markets since both Cambodia and Thailand are members of Asean and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

I am very optimistic about trade relations with Thailand since bilateral trade is increasing every year. We mainly export agricultural products – such are rice, corn, soybeans, cassava, cashew nuts, and mangoes – to Thailand, and buy crude oil, machinery, electronic equipment, construction materials, cosmetics, and home appliances, among others.

The Thai embassy said bilateral trade between the two kingdoms was worth some $9 billion last year, up 7.14 per cent from 2018’s $8.4 billion.

Q: In 2016, the leaders of Cambodia and Thailand agreed to work together to increase trade to $15 million by the end of the year. What action has been taken to get us there?

Sorphorn: Between 1994 and 2017, Thailand was one of the top 10 investors in the Kingdom, according to the latest data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia. During that period, Thailand invested $967.89 million.

Moreover, major Thai businesses such as CP All Plc (the sole operator of 7-Eleven convenient stores) and TCC Group (the operator of Big C supermarkets) have pledged to expand their investment in Cambodia this year. Both of these investments will significantly contribute to the growing trade between the two countries.

On the diplomatic side, Thailand and Cambodia maintain excellent relations, as reflected by our regular high-level visits and meetings, which have helped enhance mutual understanding and cooperation.

Q: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Thailand. How will this be celebrated?

Sorphorn: My staff and I plan to organise several events to mark the occasion. [This] week, we will have our first event: ‘A Decade of Economic and Trade Growth between Cambodia and Thailand.’ Promoting trade and investment will be the primary goal in this new decade.

The second event is a seminar series called ‘Ambassadors’ Discourse.’ The seminars will be held at four of the best universities in Bangkok: Thammasat, Chulalongkorn, Ramkhamhaeng, and Assumption. I have been invited to talk about bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand at these events.

We will also hold the Seventh Thailand-Cambodia Joint Trade Committee (JTC) Meeting led by the ministers of commerce of both countries.

The meeting will address key issues and challenges in trade and aims to find new ways to promote cross-border trade, investment, and industrial development in special economic zones. It will be held in June.

In early September, before the Pchum Ben holiday, a ‘Peace Concert’ will be held in Thailand’s Chonburi province. The event will feature performances from Cambodian and Thai artists. The theme is the celebration of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Alongside this event, we will be organising a trade fair with thousands of Cambodian and Thai products, from agricultural goods to beauty products. We are now beginning to organise this event and are seeking media partnerships and sponsorships from both countries.

Finally, in late November, we will have two more events – The Cambodian Independence Day and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Thailand.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped

  • Kingdom, China rebut basis for US sanctions

    The Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Tianjin Union Investment Development Group Co Ltd (Tianjin) have responded to US sanctions on Union Development Group Co Ltd (UDG), a Chinese-owned company currently developing the sprawling $3.8 billion Dara

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • Influenza breaks out in eight provinces

    Nearly 600 people have been infected with influenza in eight provinces in the past month, Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said. The ministry is advising extreme caution. A report released by Vandine on Saturday said the Ministry of Health observed transmissions of influenza between August 15