Thailand, Cambodia to triple bilateral trade to $15b over next five years

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha met his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen for talks at Government House in Bangkok today. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The prime ministers of Thailand and Cambodia today agreed to triple the value of bilateral trade over five years, from the current total of around $5 billion, in a sign of improving ties between the neighbours.

Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha met his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen for talks at government house in Bangkok.

Hun Sen will spend two days in Bangkok on his first visit to Thailand in a decade.

Troops from both sides exchanged gunfire and artillery shells in 2008, 2009 and 2011 over the disputed ancient border temple of Preah Vihear.

But tensions appear to have thawed since Prayuth seized power in a military coup last year. The general appreciated the positive ties and promised to enhance the bilateral partnership, the Bangkok Post quoted deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak as saying after the meeting.

He said the proposed increase in bilateral trade would be achieved through the development of economic zones in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province and Cambodia’s adjacent Banteay Meanchey province, as well as customs facilitation, and road and railway links.

Thailand asked Cambodia to share its water, while Cambodia expressed gratitude for Thailand supplying electricity to parts of Cambodia.

The two governments also discussed joint initiatives to attract tourists and agreed to encourage businesses to invest in each other’s countries, Werachon said.

Prayuth offered training for Cambodian health workers and scholarships for Cambodian medical students.

Hun Sen is expected to sign Memorandums of Understanding on labour and border issues during his visit.

It is estimated that more than a million Cambodians work in Thailand, and there are problems with illegal migration and exploitative working conditions.

Hun Sen was due to speak on investment in Cambodia at the Thailand-Cambodia Business Forum this afternoon, and tomorrow he will join the second Thailand-Cambodia Joint Cabinet Retreat.

To celebrate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties, the two sides will organise a friendly football match, which Hun Sen suggested be shown live on television.

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