Treaty Reduces Procedures for Regional Transport

The National Assembly ratified Wed­nesday a treaty that will by 2010 re­duce procedures for people traveling and goods being transported between Cambodia, Chi­­na, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ky Lum Ang, chairwoman of the Assembly’s Public Works and Transport Commission, said the six-country agreement will boost tourism and commerce in Cam­bodia by cutting down on red tape and taxes at border crossings.

Chum Iek, secretary of state for the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, told the Assembly that currently Cambodia does not meet the agreement’s infrastructure guidelines and must therefore improve roads, bridges and signage.

“We have two years more,” he said, adding that once the country’s infrastructure meets required standards, a combination of the agreement and better transportation lines will open the country to more overland trade.

Current border checks involve seven steps by custom officials, which slow down cross-border transportation, Chum Iek said. The agreement will reduce the process to a single procedure, he added.

“It will extend our market places,” he said.

Chum Iek added that the Interior Ministry is working on visa requirements between the participating countries.

SRP Lawmaker Son Chhay told the Assembly that Cambodia is not ready for the agreement because its industries and agriculture sector are not in a position to compete with its more developed neighbors.

The government has not done enough to assist farmers in becoming more productive and the agreement will allow other countries to take advantage of Cambodia, he said. He also raised concerns that less attention paid to the borders will benefit terrorists and human traffickers.

Ky Lum Ang defended the agreement, saying it included more cooperation on border security be­tween the countries involved.

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