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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        27  April 2011

Thai business wants border battles stopped

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Businesspeople are calling for a quick resolution to border disputes with Cambodia, warning that continued clashes will hurt border trade and bilateral investment sentiment.

Thanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) suggests businesses play a role in restoring the relationship between the two countries, as outside discussions can be arranged easily.

FTI chairman Payungsak Chartsutthipol said he believed the issue could be settled soon and the government was unlikely to take a tougher stance on the relationship between the two countries. However, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said on Monday that Thailand needed to revise its relationship with Cambodia since the latter was showing no intention to negotiate.

"Investors have not yet complained about this issue, and it is still business as usual. I am not concerned, as I am confident that it is still within the boundaries of negotiation," said Mr Payungsak.

He said it was still acceptable even if the government temporarily closed some border points in the disputed area, but closing all border points with Cambodia was inappropriate since it would worsen the conflict.

The comments were made on the sidelines of a meeting of the FTI, the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Bankers' Association to set up a Thailand-Cambodia business council to drive trade between the two countries.

Thailand already has a number of business councils with many countries, such as Burma, Laos, India, the European Union and the Philippines.

According to the Commerce Ministry, border trade between Thailand and Cambodia last year totaled 55.41 billion baht, up 22.1 percent from a year earlier, with Thai exports making 51.11 billion baht and imports 4.29 billion, up 72.3 percent.

Despite sporadic border disputes, Thai-Cambodian border trade keeps rising, up 14.3 percent between January and March to 16.1 billion baht, including 14.54 billion baht in Thai exports, up 8.9 percent.

Major exports from Thailand include automobiles, motorcycles, sugar, fabrics and textiles, and cosmetics, while imports are mainly agricultural products, minerals and wood. Thailand also exports fruits and vegetables, food and sugar to Vietnam through Cambodia.

Border trade with Cambodia takes place mainly through Sa Kaeo and Trat provinces, representing up to 90 percent of the total between the neighbours.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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