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Despite clashes, Thailand and Cambodia to hold business summit

Despite an ongoing border conflict which has caused bloody fighting sporadically along their frontier, Thailand and Cambodia have held their first ever business summit in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

Aishwarya Gupta

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Despite an ongoing border conflict which has caused bloody fighting sporadically along their frontier, Thailand and Cambodia have held their first ever business summit in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.

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Thailand’s Chamber of Commerce also suggested the creation of business information centres in border areas to aid economic development. The centres – termed SME clinics – would boost economic cooperation, said Thai Board of Trade Vice Chairman Niyon Wairatpining.

“Presently new investors, particularly SMEs, are afraid to invest into neighbouring countries, because of a lack of information [needed] for decision making,” he said yesterday. Cambodia Chamber of Commerce
Deputy Director, Sorn Sokna, said the suggestion could boost trade an added that the chamber already had some provincial representative offices.

“We have around 150,000 SMEs looking to put investment into neighbouring countries – if we have SME clinics, they can access information and seek partners,” he said.

“I will set up more offices along the border to ease the situation [of a lack of information],” he said.

Sorn Sokna said the next step would be to ensure there was an easy way to set up the project. Niyon Wairatpining recommended Cambodia set up the clinics through the Ministry of Commerce.

Demand from businesses have increased rapidly over the years in Thailand

In the wake of the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis, Thailand embarked on an International Monetary Fund (IMF)-sponsored economic reform program designed in part to foster a more competitive and transparent climate for foreign investors. Legislation establishing a new bankruptcy court, reforming bankruptcy and foreclosure procedures, and allowing creditors to pursue payment from loan guarantors was enacted in 1999.

Other 1999 reforms include amendments to the Land Code, Condominium Act, and the Property Leasing Act, all of which liberalized restrictions on property ownership by non-Thais. The Foreign Business Act (FBA) of 1999 governs most investment activity by non-Thai nationals and opened limited additional business sectors to foreign investment. Nevertheless, foreign investment in most service sectors is limited to 49 percent ownership.

During the closure of the airports in Bangkok from November 26 to December 2nd the CDS rose and was on par with regional peers, while the stock market fell further below that of regional peers.The impact of the global financial crisis in Thailand has been started to be felt in the real sector, particularly that of exports. Strong external accounts have enabled Thailand to withstand the contraction in global liquidity. International reserves remain relatively large and external debt – especially short-term debt – is low.

In support of this shift in emphasis, the Board of Investment adopted its sustainable development policy, and provides attractive investment incentives for such related industries as alternative energy, high technology, including medical food and equipment and the environment.

Political stability would help to regain investors as well as assure them the clarity and continuity of policy directions.These could help promote investments in Thailand by the private sector amidst the unfavorable external environment.Greater public investments in infrastructure will also boost investor confidence and investments.

Thailand, Cambodia hold first business summit in Phnom Penh

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