Two Border Crossings Open

Two border crossings with Thailand in Banteay Meanchey province are opening this month as part of a government effort to boost cross-border trade and crack down on smuggling.

A crossing at Malai officially reopened Monday, and a checkpoint at Boeng Trakuon controlled by Military Division 7 will open Thursday in an official ceremony, Banteay Meanchey Gov­ernor Duong Khem said Wed­nesday.

“When these border gates reopen, they will be beneficial to the government, generating revenue for state coffers while stopping illegal smuggling,” Duong Khem said, explaining that cross-border trade in both areas has never been controlled by the government officials.

The Malai area particularly has been known as an open border for illegal smuggling of goods such as petrol and stolen cars.

A Thai Embassy official said Thursday that opening the border crossings has been discussed by the Cambodian and Thai governments since the mass Khmer Rouge defections began in 1996. With security concerns along the border on the wane, the governments have begun building border facilities to encourage trade.

The Thai official said “quite a number” of other checkpoints along the Thai-Cambodian border are under consideration to open for trade. However, he said the final decision will be made by local authorities.

There are now two international border checkpoints along the Thai-Cambodian border. Poipet opened as a permanent international border crossing in late February. Koh Kong, a coastal city, opened as an international border checkpoint in April.

According to government officials, the government’s income from the Poipet border crossing increased from 1 billion riel ($270,270) at the opening to almost 2 billion riel two months after the checkpoint opened.

Duong Khem predicted that now a checkpoint has open­ed at Boeng Trakuon, the area will undergo developments in infrastructure and become a market center. The governor estimated that about 1 billion riel in trade is moving through the Boeng Trakuon area every month.

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