Thai-Cambodia trade ties normal
Thailand's worst floods in decades had not slowed trade with Cambodia, a Thai official in Phnom Penh said on 11 November 2011, claiming many products sought by Cambodia came from areas free of flooding.
Bilateral trade between the two countries rose nine per cent year-on-year in the first nine months to US$2.15 billion year-on-year, with Cambodia’s imports climbing 1.6 per cent to $2.02 billion, according to Thai embassy commercial counsellor Jiranan Wongmongkol.
Those figures come despite a deluge of water across 25 of Thailand’s 77 provinces that has killed more than 500 people, according to the Thai government.
“Trade exchange is normal, because the Thai products exported to Cambodia come from provinces not affected by the floods,” Jiranan Wongmongkol said.
At the same time, some factories‘ inventories had suffered damage from the floods, she said.
Cambodia’s exports, most often agricultural products, were also unaffected, given that the harvest season had passed before the flooding in both countries began.
Cambodia has suffered extensive damage from the worst flooding in 10 years.
The restoration of diplomatic ties following the election of Yingluck Shinawatra as prime minister in July was also listed as a reason for the continued trade between Thailand and Cambodia.
Yingluck is the sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
“If we keep good relations as we are doing now, our trade exchange will become as it was before,” Kong Putheara, director of the Ministry of Commerce’s statistics department, said, referring to the countries’ close relationship while Thaksin was PM.
Some insiders, however, questioned the notion that trade would continue without interruption.
Thai Business Council of Cambodia deputy manager Kriegn Kria said both countries would feel an impact from slowdowns in farming and manufacturing.
“Things are not so good, because the floods have forced a lot of big factories to close down,” he said.
Jiranan Wongmongkol admitted that the Cambodian market was becoming increasingly competitive, which might affect Thailand’s market share in Cambodia.
Also, Cambodia was now manufacturing some of the products it had been importing from Thailand. Thailand typically exports petroleum, construction materials, food and consumer goods to Cambodia.
Jiranan Wongmongkol said the Thai government planned to boost its engagement with Cambodian traders next year by holding two, rather than one, expositions in Phnom Penh and Battambang, with the aim of growing bilateral trade another 10 per cent.
The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce will host the Ayeyawady-Chao Praya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy sixth annual trade fair on Diamond Island, in Phnom Penh, between December 15 and 18. At least 90 Thai companies are expected to attend.