Thursday, 5 May 2011

Commerce returns as border gates with Thailand re-open

via CAAI

Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

THAI authorities have reopened the O’Smach and Choam international checkpoints in Oddar Meancheay province, allowing bilateral trade to resume through the crossings, according to local Cambodian officials.

The gates had been closed following the start of violent clashes between Cambodia and Thailand on April 22.

O’Smach crossing deputy director Nhuy Cheang said yesterday the gate had been reopened at 10:22 in the morning.

“The people of both countries are very pleased, and they are going in and out, running their business,” he said.

“Some are setting up their booths [across the border] to sell their goods, and casinos are reopening too.”

The reopening of the gate came following negotiations between regional military commanders from the two sides, he added.

Choam crossing director Neth Dara said the gate had been opened at 1:39 yesterday afternoon.

Residents were returning to the area, and commerce ought to pick up again by Thursday, he said.

Neth Dara had said on April 25 that local cross-border commerce had been halted by the closure of the border. Loem Heng, owner of Royal Hill Casino located near the O’Smach crossing, said the casino had reopened after a halt when the Thai authorities closed the border.

“Yesterday morning the gate reopened, so I opened the casino,” he said. He declined to reveal the number of guests who had visited the casino yesterday.

Poipet crossing had seen a drop in tourists following April’s outbreak of hostilities, but local officials have confirmed the crossing itself was unaffected.

Some 62,651 visitors entered Cambodia through the Banteay Meancheay province checkpoint in April, down from 75,636 in March, figures provided by immigration authorities show.

Leak Romnea, chief of Poipet checkpoint’s Administration Officer, said on Monday that the sudden decline was due to the ongoing Thai-Cambodia border clashes, but added the crossing had remained open.

In an April 27 speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the Kingdom could turn to other markets beside Thailand for imports.

“If Thailand closes the border, Cambodia will stop purchasing all goods from Thailand,” he said in the speech at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace.

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