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Officials: No major impact on trade amid border closure

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For the Poipet border crossing, Thailand requested the same 14-day closure but allowed lorries to continue passing. Heng Chivoan

Officials: No major impact on trade amid border closure

CAMBODIA’S Department of Commerce officials say the temporary closure of all border crossings between Cambodia and Thailand, which started on Monday, will not have a significant impact on the export of Cambodian agricultural products to Thailand.

However, there will be some difficulties with importing from Thailand.

In a move to prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19, Thai authorities announced the temporary closure of all border checkpoints with Cambodia starting on March 18, with Phnom Dei, Boeung Trakoun, and Malai being closed on Monday.

As for the Poipet border crossing, Thailand requested the same 14-day closure but allowed lorries to continue passing.

Battambang provincial Department of Commerce head Kim Huort, told The Post on Monday that the closure of the border checkpoints would have little impact on farmers in the province because all of the harvests are nearing completion.

At the same time, the news of the border checkpoints closure has caused some farmers to delay their harvest, he said.

“I don’t think there will be a problem for our agricultural products to be exported to Thailand, but what matters is that the import of products from Thailand to Cambodia can become more expensive because shipping is costly,” he said.

Cambodian products currently being exported to Thailand are longan, mango and cassava, said Hout.

Pursat Provincial Department of Commerce head Chhun Sereyrath, said the province has only one border checkpoint with Thailand (Thma Da), and that trade activity is essentially between local people.

She said agricultural products that Cambodia exports to Thailand through the Thma Da checkpoint include chilli, potatoes and peppers.

“It would have little impact on people living along the border who usually take cassava, to sell to Thailand and to buy products from there for domestic consumption,” she said.

Banteay Mean Chey Provincial Department of Commerce head Buk Laychi said he has yet to assess the impact of trade with Thailand as he and his team were travelling to check on the border crossing and study its impact first.

“For now, there is no problem. I will have a full report next week,” he said.

Koh Kong provincial Department of Commerce head Ouk Sarith, concurred with Laychi and said as the border closure had just begun, it would not have much impact on Cambodia. “It’s too soon to give an opinion. We have to wait and see what happens,” he said.

He said if the closure is long-term, it will have some impact on Cambodia through the lack of raw materials to support the SEZ and construction sector.

Cambodia and Thailand pledged to promote the cross-border trade to reach some $15 billion by the end of the year.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce told The Post on Monday that the temporary closure of the border gates with Thailand will not bear a significant impact on bilateral trade as it applies only to borders where civilians cross.

“I think that currently, we don’t see any impact as the trade exchange continues. However, we will closely monitor the consequences.

“Right now, the Covid-19 pandemic is disrupting production as it has caused a shortage of raw materials due to factory closures. If it continues much longer, it will also affect our exports to regional and global markets,” he said.

An official report from the Thai embassy in Cambodia said that last year, the total volume of trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $9.41 billion, an increase of 12 per cent compared with $8.38 billion in 2018.

Thailand’s exports to Cambodia are worth $7.14 billion, down six per cent from $7.61 billion in 2018. The Kingdom’s exports to Thailand was $2.2 billion, up 195 per cent compared to 2018’s $768 million.

The majority of products Cambodia exported to Thailand included maize, cassava and soybean, while Thailand’s exports to Cambodia consisted of machinery, electronic equipment, fuel, construction materials, foodstuffs, cosmetics, and home appliances.

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