VN, Cambodia Tighten Economic Relations

Vietnam is vying for a larger share of the Cambodian import market, re­lying on a comprehensive transportation network and historic re­lations, a Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce official said Mon­day, as a delegation re­turned from Vietnam with plans for new cross-border ventures.

Nang Sothy, the chamber’s di­rec­tor-general, said that Vietnam is trying to edge out Thailand, which for years has been the re­gion’s leading exporter to Cam­bo­dia.

“It’s pretty easy for Vietnam to absorb Cambodia’s market be­cause their goods are cheaper [than Thailand’s] and high-quality,” he said. “We are in a stable political relationship, and in terms of transportation, [Vietnam] is closer than Thailand.”

According to statistics from the Min­istry of Commerce, Thailand ex­ported goods to Cambodia valued at more than $223 million in 2003—second only to China—while Vietnam exported nearly $130 million worth. Figures for 2004 are not yet available.

Nang Sothy’s comments came as Deputy Prime Minister Sok An returned on Monday from Ho Chi Minh City, where he and a delegation of Cambodian businessmen attended a seminar last week with their Vietnamese counterparts on joint-investment and promoting the economies of both countries.

The meeting resulted in five cross-border contracts—for projects ranging from a highway to a nut-processing factory—and two memorandums of understanding.

Three of those contracts are joint-ventures involving Cam­bo­dian petroleum giant Sokimex.

The company signed a deal with The Saigon Trading Corp for two food processing factories in Cambodia, another with the Sai­gon Investment Joint Stock Com­pa­ny to build a Phnom Penh hospital and a third with Sai­gon­Tourist, with which Sokimex will work on a tourism and real estate venture, Nang Sothy said.

Commodities tycoon Mong

Re­th­thy, chairman of a company that bears his name, also signed a contract with the Vietnamese So­vin­co Group to build a new four-lane high­way linking downtown Phnom Penh to the capital’s airport.

The 11-km project is intended to ease traffic, and after it pays for itself in tolls, it will be turned over to the government, Mong Reththy said. He added that the specifics still need to be ironed out.

“Vietnam, Cambodia are like friends,” Mong Reththy said. “We go forward together, we need each other.”

Nang Sothy said that one of the MOUs, signed by Men Sarun Im­port-Export Co, outlined plans to build a seafood processing plant near the Vietnam border in Kandal province with Saigon Agriculture Corp.

 

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