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Thursday, October 15, 2009

VN-Cambodia border gates ’will increase trade, tourism’

VietNamNet Bridge – The opening of three more border gates between Viet Nam and Cambodia earlier this month will create more opportunities for trade and tourism between the two countries, economists say.

Xa Mat gate is located in Tay Ninh province, Tinh Bien gate in An Giang province and Ha Tien gate in Kien Giang province, all in southern Viet Nam.

The move is part of an agreement signed between the two countries in 2005 to open seven border gates in the long run.

After the first border gate of Moc Bai was put into operation in 2006, the number of vehicles going through it increased from 80 to 300 by March this year. According to Phan Thi Thu Hien, deputy head of the Transport Department under the Ministry of Transport’s Road Administration, the sluggish infrastructure development coupled with complicated import-export policies applied at border gate areas was to blame for the delay in opening more border gates.

The business community, meanwhile, has seen new opportunities.

Huynh Huu Phuc, head of the finance and legal group of Bitis, one of Viet Nam’s biggest shoe producers that has branches in Cambodia, said that his company was conducting research to open more branches in Cambodian provinces that have convenient transportation to and from Viet Nam.

Pho Duc Hung, vice-president of Viettel Post, a subsidiary of Viet Nam’s Military Telecom Corporation (Viettel), which is now the largest telecommunications service provider in Cambodia, said that his company was hoping to open more branches in Vietnamese provinces that have border gates to Cambodia.

Hung said that having more border gates would cut down on transportation costs and help businesses. He said currently his company had to send their products via other companies and was thinking of sending them directly to Cambodia using their own vehicles.

Trade and commerce between Viet Nam and Cambodia has been quickly expanding. More than 100 Vietnamese companies are now operating in Cambodia, mostly in agro-forestry, services and industrial sectors. In Viet Nam, many Cambodian companies are also doing business with local companies including Golden Eagle Meng Sun Fish Sauce Enterprise, LyLy Food Industry and Sin Tai Seng Tea-Coffee factory.

In addition, tourist potential will benefit both countries. According to statistics from the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism, Vietnamese tourists constituted the second greatest number of foreign tourists in Cambodia in 2007 and 2008, 9.86 per cent of the total. The number of Vietnamese tourists in 2008 increased dramatically at a rate of 67.02 per cent from the previous year. As more border gates open, tour costs will decrease and the number of tourists will increase.

Phan Thanh, vice president of Phuong Nam Star Travel, said the border gate openings were very good news for Vietnamese tourists as they now could travel to Cambodia more conveniently and for lower prices.

However, Thanh also underlined the fact that more borders gates will also mean already-existing companies facing more competition, as more local companies in border areas open. According to the agreement between the two countries, another three border gates will open, helping boost bilateral trade.

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