A Thai delegation is scheduled to meet with Cambodian commerce officials later this month to review a draft master plan on cooperative economic development in the border areas.
Sok Siphana, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said Thursday that a joint steering committee formed by the two countries will study the draft to make it more concrete. The plan, expected to be completed in October, is aimed at creating tax-free export processing zones along the border from Koh Kong province through Poipet commune in Banteay Meanchey province.
“We are seeking bilateral cooperation to promote more trade and tourism, focusing on the border area,” Sok Siphana said. The next meeting, scheduled for April 17 though 19, will focus on a mid-term report on drafting the plan.
A Cambodian team headed by Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh will host the Thai counterparts, led by Pornchai Rujiprapa, deputy secretary-general for the National Economic and Social Commission Board, according to a Thai newspaper.
Sok Siphana said the cooperation is driven from needs of the two countries. Through the plan, Cambodia will be able to create more jobs and learn advanced technology from Thai manufacturers, while Thai counterparts can export goods using Cambodia’s special trade status granted by developed countries.
“It will be a win-win situation,” Sok Siphana said.
Targeted industries include export-oriented manufacturing such as garment and shoe factories, and agro-businesses including canned food and wood processing factories, he added.
Developing tax-free trade zones along the border have been recommended by international experts, and this bilateral cooperation would be the first of its kind for the two countries.
The government has failed to create free trade zones in both Sihanoukville—the country’s only open water port—and the Kompong Chhnang airport. But a land shortage in Sihanoukville and a lack of private funds in Kompong Chhnang have slowed both projects.
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