The Vietnamese government has greenlighted an infrastructure development strategy in a move that could bring it a step closer to a target of $5 billion in annual bilateral trade with Cambodia set by the prime ministers of both countries.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a plan to implement a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the development and connection of border trade infrastructure between the two ASEAN neighbours, the State-controlled Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported on Friday.
VNA said: “The implementation started on August 19 and will last until October 2022. If the MoU is extended, the plan will continue to be carried out for three more years.
“In the two years 2021 and 2022, they will carry out surveys for the building of at least a border market; run activities to encourage Vietnamese and Cambodian businessmen to invest in border trade infrastructure; increase related trade and investment promotion events; and support firms in introducing and distributing goods at border markets, trade centres and trade fairs.”
A source at the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh told The Post on Sunday that the Vietnamese government granted the technical and financial assistance required to set up a border market Kingdom-side.
“Our government has just passed a law that agreed in principle for [Vietnam’s] Ministry of Industry and Trade to help the Cambodian side to build a border market. Funding will be covered in full by Vietnamese grant aid,” said the source, hinting that the southeastern Svay Rieng province could be the chosen host for the market.
During Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Hanoi in October, the two countries signed several MoUs on cooperation.
Four were aimed at reinforcing bilateral investment and trade cooperation, trade connectivity infrastructure along the border, investment synergy and collaboration in the electric power sector.
The source said Covid-19-fuelled fears have not deterred the Vietnamese government’s resolve to keep its borders open to the exchange of goods.
“Our government aspires to ensure that border crossings remain open as usual to goods trade while enforcing strict measures to control the disease, thereby honouring the two countries’ commitments on developing trade facilities along the border and exchanging information on the pandemic,” the source added.
Cambodian Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay could not be reached for comment.
The Kingdom’s exports to Vietnam slipped 7.5 per cent to more than $592 million in the first seven months of this year while imports contracted 3.7 per cent to over $2.395 billion, data from the embassy show.
The two countries share a 1,137km land border which passes through nine Cambodian provinces – Kampot, Takeo, Kandal, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Tbong Khmum, Kratie, Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri and ten Vietnamese provinces of Kien Gian, An Giang, Dong Thap, Long An, Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai and Kon Tum.