Cross-border trade between Cambodia and Thailand continues to rise despite a nationwide lockdown in the latter from last week.
However, bilateral trade volume is likely to fall short of this year’s $15 billion trade target due to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials from both countries have said.
Keerati Rushchano, director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade under Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce, said cross-border trade with Cambodia reached 33.904 billion baht ($1.036 billion) in the first two months of this year, up 15.66 per cent year-on-year, Thai digital daily The Nation reported on April 1.
Thailand’s cross-border trade with neighbouring countries totalled 171.314 billion baht during the period, down 6.46 per cent year-on-year, he said.
Keerati said Cambodian imports from Thailand climbed 14.86 per cent during the period, fuelled by shipments of non-alcoholic drinks, vehicles, electrical equipment and components, and livestock products.
“Just behind Cambodia as Thai export destinations are Laos and Myanmar, for non-alcoholic drinks, computers, diesel oil, fabric and thread, and Malaysia for rubber products, computers, electrical equipment and components,” he was quoted as saying.
Cambodian Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thai told The Post on Tuesday that although Thailand is in the midst of a lockdown, travel restrictions only apply to people, not goods.
“We are really happy to see the news that trade between our countries continues to increase.
“With the concern surrounding the rise of Covid-19 cases, Thailand declared a lockdown – but they didn’t halt trade, they only banned people from travelling,” he said.
He said that while the threat of Covid-19 lingers, factories will be disrupted as they cut production and switch their focus to the ongoing battle against the pandemic.
“Both of our countries have been impacted by Covid-19. If the pandemic lasts too long, it will hurt our chances of hitting the target set by both of our leaders to boost cross-border trade,” Thai said.
Keerati said the pandemic prompted his department to postpone a border trade fair in Sa Kaeo province’s Aranyaprathet district, which was scheduled for March 28-31 this year.
Once the disease is under control, “the department plans to boost border trade with fairs in provinces across the country”, he said.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $9 billion last year, up 7.14 per cent from 2018’s $8.4 billion, data from the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh shows.
Thailand is among the top nine countries which expanded their investments in Cambodia between 1994 and the end of 2017’s third quarter, with an investment value of $967.89 million during the timeframe, data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia shows.