Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand declined 22.5 percent in the first 11 months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, according to data released Tuesday by the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh.
Thailand exported $1.43 billion worth of goods to Cambodia during the first 11 months of 2009, while Cambodia exported $71 million to Thailand, according to the data.
Sok Sopheak, director-general for international trade at the Ministry of Commerce, said it was too early to say how much bilateral trade between the countries will improve this year with an expected recovery as Thai products face competition from countries like Vietnam, which are improving their production quality.
“The Thais, they are afraid [of] Vietnam,” he said. “It’s not simple because we have a lot of trade between Cambodia and Vietnam and other trade partners.”
Mr Sopheak said that political tensions between Cambodia and Thailand had not caused the decline in trade.
“I think that the only reason is the economy abroad has decreased and the product imports have also decreased, because the real estate sector is low, tourism is low and garment industry is low.”
Poonsak Khunudom, counselor in charge of commercial affairs at the Thai Embassy, said trade is improving but would not speculate on how much trade will improve over the year.
“It’s up to the global economy and the economy of Cambodia also,” he said.
Khaou Phallaboth, president of Khaou Chuly group, said he expects trade to improve in the second half of this year as the economy recovers.
Thai imports of building materials such as floor and roof tiles are still low for Home Decor Center Co, which Khaou Chuly partly owns, he said.
The tension between Thailand and Cambodia and the low prices of other countries may cause Home Decor Center to diversify its suppliers to include China and Vietnam, he said.
“Vietnam products are getting better and better quality and we don’t have those political tensions,” he said.