Thai and Cambodian trade delegates have reached an understanding on areas for bilateral economic cooperation, assuring the two countries will complete a 10-year plan by late this year.
A Thai delegation, headed by Pornchai Rujiprapa, deputy secretary-general of the Thai national Economic and Social Development Board, met Wednesday with Cambodian counterparts to discuss a draft plan for the first bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries.
“We tried to formulate a comprehensive development plan, identifying target areas in economic cooperation,” said Rujiprapa after a lengthy conference at the Juliana Hotel. “Trade is a key area….It is like the [European Union], to develop our regional [economic bloc and] products.”
During the closed-door meeting, ideas were exchanged on how and where to encourage special economic cooperation so that both countries benefit from trade, tourism and other industrial projects, delegates said.
“We both understand our needs to develop a strong partnership that will maximize the potentials of our two countries and strengthen our economies,” said Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh after the meeting.
Labor-intensive manufacturing industries, agro-industry, tourism and infrastructure are sectors Thailand and Cambodia are now looking into, the two leaders said.
Both countries have discovered mutual interests in developing cross-border economic zones along the Trat-Koh Kong and Aranyaprathet-Poipet borders, creating tax-free trade and export-processing areas, delegates said.
The joint development of infrastructure between the two countries, such as road and train systems, will first be promoted in order to enhance trade, investment and tourism, they said.
Rujiprapa said Thailand is willing to transfer its technology and agricultural, manufacturing and food processing skills to Cambodia, and help raise Cambodian standards of quality for varied goods and services.
Cham Prasidh responded that Cambodia could offer Thailand more competitive market access using his country’s special trade status granted to developed countries.
It will also provide its partner cheap labor and abundant natural resources, especially agricultural crops and fishery commodities, he added.
“This master plan is intended to benefit both countries and people,” Cham Prasidh said.
Developing a cooperative plan took priority when Prime Minister Hun Sen met with former Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai last June. Since then, the two countries have worked to draft the plan.
The two countries will complete the master plan by the end of the year, and move to formulate detailed projects while seeking aid from the Asian Development Bank, delegates said.