PHNOM PENH: Thailand and Cambodia are pushing for the opening of a new border checkpoint to boost trade between the two countries.
Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya discussed the checkpoint with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his counterpart Hor Namhong when he met them this week to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The new checkpoint would be located at Ban Nong Eian in Aranyaprathet district, Sa Kaeo, opposite Stung Bot in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province. The existing Poipet-Aranyaprathet border checkpoint is about seven kilometres further north.
"Both Thai and Cambodian officials in charge of the planned construction of the Nong Eian-Stung Bot checkpoint are working very hard to complete it within two years," Thailand's ambassador to Cambodia Prasas Prasasvinitchai said.
The new checkpoint would serve as an international trade route while the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border crossing would be used only for international tourist traffic, he said.
Mr Prasas said Thailand would reap many benefits from the cross-border trade using the new checkpoint.
The total value of trade between the two countries is estimated at 60 billion baht, 90% of which is Thai exports.
Thai businessmen could increase both the volume and the value of their exports through the checkpoint, he said.
The new checkpoint was raised several years ago but nothing concrete was done until Abhisit Vejjajiva came to power two years ago.
Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit have held several talks with Cambodia to push for the checkpoint, which could be developed as a special economic zone.
Hun Sen also has said he wanted to turn those areas along the border which are now infested with landmines into a special economic zone.
Former Thai ambassador to Cambodia Poksak Nilubol, who now heads the Thailand-Cambodia Friendship Association, has also travelled to Phnom Penh to provide the Cambodian government with medical equipment and supplies to help improve services at three health centres in Oddar Meanchey province.