Thais Call For More Crossings Along Cambodian Border

Traders and locals from border areas in Thailand are calling for more border points to open to facilitate trade with Cambodia, the Bangkok Post reported.

In a three-day meeting with the Thai National Economic and So­cial Development board, merchants, farmers and members of the Local Development Institute said that because only two border crossings are legitimately open—those in Trat, Thailand, near Koh Kong, and Poipet, across the border from Aranyapratet—trade is being hurt by an increasing number of smugglers.

There are eight other possible crossings along Cambodia’s 800-km border with Thailand, the newspaper said.

Some of the border cross­ings are open one or two days a week, said Cambodian gov­ern­ment spokesman Khieu Kan­harith, but there are no plans to open any of them permanently.

“We don’t have any plans yet, but we have some requests from the provinces,” he said, adding that opening more borders would require more border officials.

He would not say whether opening more borders would in­crease or decrease smuggling.

Legitimate trade between the countries amounted to an estimated $342 million last year, according to the report. Smug­gled goods were not included in the figure.

While some of the meeting participants said more border openings would improve cooperation, others said the countries should focus on “social, cultural and educational links.”

Both Koh Kong and Poipet have seen an investment boom from the open borders. But that  has been in the form of casinos, with little money reaching border residents.

It is not clear if Cambodia would welcome such links. The infusion of Thai culture in Koh Kong prov­ince was criticized this year by officials who said Thai television programming, goods and language encroached on Khmer culture.

Both Koh Kong and Poipet have seen an investment boom from the open borders. But that development has been in the form of casinos, with little of the money earned trickling down to the impoverished Cambodian border residents.

 

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