Updated on : 18-03-2016
Thai executives are encouraging their government to build business centers in Cambodian provinces that border the country, as well as in its other ASEAN neighbors, according to Thai media reports.
Thawatchai Hengprasert, the vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), urged the Thai government to set up the centers in all countries bordering Thailand – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia – to help increase trade, he told the Bangkok Post. The open border policy of ASEAN is a chance to boost cross-border trade and Thai products are very popular in the region, he told the newspaper.
“Thai products are very well known in ASEAN, especially consumer items, construction materials and food products,” he said. “The export value of these products continues to grow in ASEAN.”
Nguon Meng Tech, the president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the initiative from the Thai side and suggested the government should find out the details of the proposal in order to make it run smoothly and be mutually beneficial.
“It is a good idea if they build centers in our country because it will serve as the main point for the exchange of trade as we have already opened for the ASEAN Economic Community,” Mr. Meng Tech said.
“Although we don’t have many products to compete with them, I still welcome the idea,” he added. “I do hope the government will set out a clear policy before giving any approval in order to make sure the proposal from our Thai counterparts has benefits for both sides.”
Cambodia is Thailand’s 22nd largest trading partner and the eighth largest in ASEAN. Bilateral trade was worth $5.1 billion in 2014, up 11 percent from the $4.6 billion in 2013, according to the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh.
During the second Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat in Bangkok in late December last year, both prime ministers pledged to increase bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2020 – an increase of 30 percent annually.
The Thai government is also studying a plan to build Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in 15 provinces along the country’s borders, while Cambodia and Thailand have already agreed to build SEZs along the border.
However, Mr. Thawatchai said construction of the SEZs will take some time due to land speculation and protests by villagers, plus misunderstandings about the policy. These delays will put the projects back almost one year, he said.
“We have heard about the SEZ policy for a long time, but progress has been very slow,” he said. “However, the government could accelerate the development of logistic centers, which can immediately help boost border trade and exports,” he said.
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