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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        8  February 2011

Trade jeopardized due to border conflict

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The Thai business community is concerned that the current Thai-Cambodian border clashes will hurt trade and investment sentiment as well as tourism.

Kongkrit Hiranyakit, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT), said the clashes between Thai and Cambodian troops are making a number of tourists stay away from nearby areas. He expects they will have a long-term impact on Thai tourism as the country may lose the opportunity to be a tourism hub when the Asean Economic Community integration takes place in 2015.

"The ongoing clashes can make other Asean member nations turn their attention from Thailand to other countries. Our rivals like Malaysia and Singapore may take this opportunity to promote themselves," he said.

Border clashes could mean other neighbouring countries like Laos and Burma may not trust Thailand, and Thai investors may be reluctant to invest in these countries, he added. As for short-term impact, the number of Thai visitors to Cambodia will drop. Also foreign tourists who stop over in Thailand before travelling to Angkor Wat will decrease, with Japanese and Koreans likely stopping over in Vietnam instead. This is tens of thousands of tourists annually, he noted.

Bilateral trade has gradually declined from 59 billion baht in 2008 to 50 billion baht in 2009 and 2010, with estimates this year of 45 billion baht.

Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said the closure of four checkpoints in the past four days has docked trading value by about 100 million baht.

Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said border trade between Thailand and Cambodia accounted for 80 percent of bilateral trade for the countries last year. More than half of the total exports to Cambodia were shipped through checkpoints in Sa Kaew province.

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