New MoU With Thailand On Trade Across Borders

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Cambodia and Thailand will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cross-border trade in early November to comply with Thailand’s new customs law, which is due to come into effect on November 13.

The border-crossing in Poipet from the Cambodian side. KHMER TIMES / CHOR SOKUNTHEA

The announcement of the new MoU comes after the prime ministers of both nations, meeting during the Third Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat in September, agreed to increase efforts to boost cross-border trade, attract more investment and reach $15 billion in bilateral trade by 2020.

The announcement was made by Kun Nhem, the director of Cambodia’s General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), who last week led a trade delegation to Bangkok to meet his Thai counterparts and negotiate the details of the agreement on cross-border trade.

“The purpose of the MoU is to fulfill the conditions to provide legitimacy on the transportation of cross-border goods by land in accordance with the new customs regulations of Thailand,” the official statement of the GDCE reads. “The MoU does not only fulfill the conditions to provide legitimacy to the transportation of cross-border goods by land in accordance with Thailand’s new customs regulations, but also benefits Cambodia in that it strengthens the control of goods imported into Cambodia via Thailand.”

Bou Bunnara, the chief of the public relations unit at GDCE, told Khmer Times yesterday that both sides are working hard to have a draft of the agreement ready by the November deadline. Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha pledged in September to increase imports of agricultural products from Cambodia, open more border-crossings between the nations and seek new ways to reach the targeted $15 billion in bilateral trade. “We will launch a new customs law that will make it easier for Cambodian businessmen who want to export to third countries via Thailand,” added Prayut.

During the September meeting, agreements were also reached on double tax avoidance and preventing the declaration of fraudulent income to avoid tax, which are considered essential to investment and foreign technology transfers. According to the statement from GDCE, both sides will also work together to establish six checkpoints for cargo transported by land to or from a third country, among other initiatives to crack down on smugglers. Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand reached $5.6 billion in 2016, a rise of $100 million year-on-year. Thailand’s exports to Cambodia last year were worth $4.7 billion, while Cambodia’s exports to Thailand were valued at $937 million.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.