Home > Local News > Traders shrug off border tension

Traders shrug off border tension

Men transport merchandise across the Thai-Cambodian border at the Poipet crossing in May last year. Photo by: Sovan Philong
Political tensions between Cambodia and Thailand did not challenge
economic concerns last year, officials said today, as the value of
bilateral trade between the two countries grew more than 50 percent in
2010.
Figures from the Thai Embassy’s foreign trade promotion office,
released today in Phnom Penh, showed the value of trade rose to
US$2.557 billion in 2010, up from $1.658 billion a year earlier –
growth of about 54 percent.
Cambodia’s exports to Thailand rose
176 percent year-on-year to $215 million, while Thailand’s exports
increased by about 48 percent to $2.342 billion in 2010.
Tensions between the two countries rose in July 2008 after UNESCO listed Preah Vihear temple as a Cambodian world heritage site.
In
late 2009, the relationship soured further when both governments
recalled their ambassadors after Cambodia appointed the former Thai
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic advisor.
Conditions improved once Thaksin resigned from his role in August 2010, when both ambassadors returned to their offices.
Controversy flared again in recent weeks after seven Thais were arrested in December in Banteay Meanchey’s O’Chrou district.
Officials said today the ongoing political situation had not directly impacted economic ties between the two kingdoms.
“Our
policy is that political matters are in one hand, and economics are in
one other [hand]. People are still doing business and exchanging
[goods],” said Chan Nora, secretary of state at Cambodia’s Commerce
Ministry.
“The policy does not comply only [to] our country but also other countries in the world.”
Deputy
Director of the Thai Business Council of Cambodia, Kriegn Kria, said
today that many of Thailand’s large companies were not concerned about
the political issues.
“I think that nothing impacted the business
made between the people of our two countries because we have had a very
long history, which is why we have got so close to each other,” he said.
He
cited that the increase in bilateral trade was in part due to the
recovery of the global economy, which was pushing consumer demand.
Business
representatives from Thai-based firms also emphasised today the
importance of economic growth as a factor affecting trade rather than
politics.
Bin Many Mialia, business division manager at Thai petroleum company PTT, said his business had improved in 2010.
“We’re
doing well. We are the key importer of fuel oil used in electricity
generation and Jet A/1 fuel for commercial use,” he said.
“The political issue did not impact us. If the economy is improving, my business is also good.”
And,
despite recent developments which have seen two of the arrested Thais
sentenced to jail terms, officials are still optimistic for growth in
the year ahead.
Kriegn Kria said:  “I think it should be good this year because the world economy is going better.”
“I
do believe that we will keep increasing trade, even through the recent
political standoff, because people will still exchange their products
with each other,” added Chan Nora.
Thailand’s exports to Cambodia include petroleum, processed goods, building materials, fruit and vegetables.
Cambodia primarily ships agricultural products, second-hand garments, recyclable metal and fish in the opposite direction.
Jiranan Wongmongkol, director of FTPO, was not available for comment today.
Phnom Penh Post
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Categories: Local News
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