Photo credit: Reuters
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Cambodia and Thailand re-open cross-border rail link after 46 years
(22 April 2019) Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen officiated the railway linking Klong Luek station in Thailand’s Aranyaprathet district with Poi Pet station in Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province on April 22 — 46 years after it was closed in 1973 due to Cambodia’s civil war. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prayut said that the link will boost trade, tourism, transportation and economic opportunities between the countries. Hun Sen, for his part, said that the restored rail link will not only help the two countries, but also contribute to greater ASEAN integration and Greater Mekong Subregion development. In a symbolic show of support, Thailand donated a four-carriage train to the project, which both leaders rode on to officiate the reconnection. The rail service will begin operations later this year once both countries finalise the relevant transportation regulations.
Thailand and Myanmar ink sustainable tourism promotion cooperation agreement
(19 April 2019) The Thai Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA) and Myanmar’s Myeik city authorities signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly develop and promote sustainable travel routes that connect cultural heritage sites in both countries. According to DASTA deputy director Chumpol Musiganont, the five new travel routes will be managed in accordance with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria and is expected to boost tourism in the region. He also expressed his hope for the Singkhon border checkpoint in Prachuap Khiri Khan to be upgraded to permanent status in the near future in order to serve as the key gateway between Thailand and southern Myanmar. Under the current MoU, historical sites in Thailand’s ancient city of U Thong and Myanmar’s ancient city of Tanintharyi will be connected through five new travel routes, i.e., U Thong-Suphan Buri, U Thong-Kanchanaburi, U Thong-Nakhon Pathom, U Thong-Prachuap Khiri Khan and U Thong-Myeik.
Vietnamese investments in Cambodia reach US$2.9 billion
(22 April 2019) Vietnam presently has almost US$2.9 billion of registered investments in 190 projects in Cambodia with most of them in the agriculture and forestry sector. This is in addition to the import-export turnover between the countries expanding by nearly 24% to reach US$4.7 billion during the same period. Vietnam’s exports to Cambodia accounted for US$3.7 billion of the sum, while Cambodia’s exports to Vietnam accounted for under US$1 billion of the amount. Meanwhile, Cambodia has 19 investment projects in Vietnam worth US$65 million. According to the report, the strengthened economic and investment cooperation between the two countries can be attributed to the increased transparency and visibility of the two countries’ taxation environment.
Indian companies urged to step up investments in CLMV countries
(23 April 2019) Vietnamese ambassador to India Pham Sanh Chau urged Indian companies to expand their footprint in the CLMV subregion by developing greater institutional linkages with the countries in line with the Indian government’s Act East Policy. The ambassador’s remarks were made during an event hosted by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) on April 11. According to ORF fellow Dr Malancha Chakrabarty, despite the high growth opportunities that CLMV countries present, Indian private sector investment in the subregion accounts for only 0.2% of India’s overseas direct investment in the last decade. Furthermore, these investments have mostly gone to Vietnam (54.9%) and Myanmar (39.8%). Ambassador Pham remarked on the need for an integrated approach to trade goals and development cooperation.
Thai AirAsia adds new route to deep-sea port and tourist destination Sihanoukville
(22 April 2019) Thai AirAsia announced that it will begin operating a direct flight from Thailand’s Don Mueang airport to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville province on July 1. According to the airlines’ chief executive Santisuk Klongchaiya, Sihanoukville was selected as it was a popular beach and cultural destination. It also happens to be home to the country’s main deep-sea port and many Chinese investments. The move comes on the back of the Cambodian government’s earlier announcement that it has selected Sihanoukville province (also known as Preah Sihanouk province) as the location for the ASEAN Summit and related meetings in 2022. According to Sihanoukville governor Yun Min, summit preparations have begun and the province’s O’Tres Beach has been selected as the summit’s main location.
About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.