Thailand and Cambodia have agreed to drive bilateral trade up by 30 per cent a year, following an agreement to establish a special rice-trade zone.
After the fourth Joint Trade Commission (JTC) recently, Commerce Minister Boonsong Teriyapirom said that Thailand and Cambodia had the potential to drive two-way trade up by 30 per cent, due to strong growth in 2012.
Last year, bilateral trade grew by 40.5 per cent year on year, from US$2.86 billion (Bt84 billion) in 2011 to $4.03 billion in 2012. To drive growth, the two countries
will also strengthen cooperation on trade and investment in other sectors, ready for the opening of the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
Made up of five Asean member states, the rice trade zone will include Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, in addition to Thailand and Cambodia. It is hoped that the special trade zone will ensure global food security throughout the Asean region as well as stabilise the price of rice on the world market.
Three working committees will be set up among the five countries. The first committee will comprise high level officials and ministers of the so-called Asean 5. The second committee will be made up of senior officials of the Asean Rice Cooperation Committee, which will work closely with the private rice traders of each country, hailing from organisations like Asean Rice Miller and the Trader Federation.
Thailand will also expand crop cooperation to include the cultivation of cassava, thus raising the incomes of farmers in the region. In addition, it will help Cambodia promote its cassava production under the same trade zone concept. This is expected to encourage more trading of cereals, by promoting contract farming and providing stable incomes for farmers.
Moreover, under an initiative called the Greater Mekong Sub-region Cross-Border Transport Agreement, the two nations will provide public transport between the border town of Aranyaprathet and Cambodia’s Poipet. It is hoped the move will lead to a growth in logistics and trade between the two countries and improve immigration procedures for travellers, including an electronic passport identification system.