OCA Talks, Border-Crossing, VISA Program Top Agenda During PM Hun Manet’s Visit to Thailand

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The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Manet, embarked on an official visit to Thailand on February 7, 2024. During his visit, he met with Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, Thailand’s head of parliament and senate, and presided over the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the business chambers of Cambodia and Thailand.

OCA Talks, Border-Crossing, VISA Program Top Agenda During PM Hun Manet's Visit to Thailand
OCA Talks, Border-Crossing, VISA Program Top Agenda During PM Hun Manet’s Visit to Thailand./Image source: Thai Enquirer

It was the Cambodian Prime Minister’s first visit to the Kingdom’s neighbour since he took office in 2023. The Cambodian and Thai governments agreed to upgrade the relationship between their countries to a strategic partnership. 

As part of this development, a new Thai consulate will be opened in Siem Reap, and a new Cambodian consulate will be established in Songkhla in southern Thailand in 2024.

As reported by various Thai outlets and the official media of the Cambodian Prime Minister, the governments of Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to initiate further discussions concerning the joint exploration of resources in the overlapping claims area (OCA) in the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodian-Thai Trade

Regarding trade, Srettha highlighted that the bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Thailand was USD $8 billion in 2023, which is lower than expected in order to meet the set target of USD $15 billion by 2025. To help meet this target, Thailand has stated it will host the 7th Joint Trade Committee (JTC) at the Commerce Minister level in May 2024 to come up with a plan to boost the volume of bilateral trade.

Cross-Border Travel And Tourism Between Thailand And Cambodia

The Agreement on Border Crossings will be updated to allow for the use of temporary border passes, longer stays, and access to non-border provinces. 

The two governments will also resume negotiations on the Bilateral Agreement on Cross-Border Transportation by Road to enable border crossings by private cars.

On tourism, the two governments agreed to explore ways to make it easier for tourists to travel across borders, as well as in other neighbouring countries, under the ‘Six-Countries, One-Destination’ campaign to promote regional tourism. 

“If Europe can do it, why can’t we do it?” Srettha remarked, referring to the push for a Thai-CLMV visa program, similar to the Schengen visa program in Europe.

Security Ties Between Thailand And Cambodia

On border security issues, the Cambodian and Thai governments have agreed to continue working together against transnational crimes, especially cyber scam networks. Both governments also pledged to make their borders free from landmines. 

The Thai Prime Minister also invited Cambodia to join the CLEAR Sky Strategy with Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar to collaborate on the issue of cross-border haze (poor visibility and air quality). 

The Thai and Cambodian governments have agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to map out cooperation on this matter, including the establishment of a hotline to share information and alerts regarding locations of active fires, emergency response, and capacity building.

Thailand’s Prime Minister also reassured the Cambodian government that Thailand will not allow anyone to use Thailand as a platform to interfere in the internal affairs of Cambodia or conduct harmful activities against the neighbouring country, promising to “strictly enforce [Thai] law and policy in this aspect.” 

MoU Signings Between Thai and Cambodian Leadership 2024

The Prime Ministers of Cambodia and Thailand presided over a signing ceremony for five MoUs covering different areas of cooperation, including on:

  1. Disaster risk reduction and emergency response between the National Committee for Disaster Management of Cambodia and the Ministry of Interior of Thailand;
  2. Science and technology education between the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation (MISTI) of Cambodia and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) of Thailand;
  3. Transit goods between the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia and the Thai Customs Department;
  4. Cooperation between the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand;
  5. Cooperation between the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC).

The Cambodian Prime Minister is due to visit Australia in March 2024.

Read More on Recent New Business Agreements in Cambodia.

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