Saturday, 19 January 2008

Cambodia may expel China protestors

19 Jan 2008 01:15:08

Mia Farrow plans to hold a ceremony at Tuol Sleng prison.Cambodia threatens to expel activists who plan a ceremony at a Khmer Rouge prison to increase pressure on China over the crisis in Darfur.

Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith condemned the event, led by American actress Mia Farrow, as 'insulting' to victims of the communist regime which devastated Cambodia during the late 1970s.

"They want to use Tuol Sleng Prison to attack China, not to commemorate the souls of Cambodian people," said Khieu Kanharith, threatening to expel those who insist on holding the ceremony.

The group of activists, Dream for Darfur, has started a torch relay through nations that have suffered genocide to draw attention to China's close ties with Sudan, while Beijing is to host the Olympic Games in August.

Farrow's group had planned to hold a ceremony Sunday outside Tuol Sleng, formerly a torture center turned into a genocide museum.

The government on Wednesday said it would not allow the event, accusing the group of attempts to politicize the Olympic Games.

But organizers said on Friday that they would still rally at the prison despite the ban.

China--which has been under pressure to use its economic ties with Sudan to stop the violence in Darfur-- was also a close ally of the communist Khmer Rouge, which accounted for up to two million Cambodians' deaths between 1975-79.

China absorbs almost two thirds of Sudan's oil output and is the most influential ally of the African country where violence has claimed thousands of lives since it erupted in volatile Darfur region in 2003.

Radio Broadcasted during Khmer Republic 1975


Kampuchea National Radio broadcasted in 1975: Hosted by Huy Meas & Sos Math

Kampuchea National Radio broadcasted in 1975: Hosted by Huy Meas

Radio Australia : 17 January 2008

Thursday 17/01/2008

Local Buddhists mourn loss of spiritual leader

By David Perry,
Lowell Sun (Lowell, Mass., USA)

LOWELL -- In his 90 years, the Venerable Ly Van Aggadipo witnessed the worst in humanity but as a respected community member and spiritual leader of Lowell's Glory Buddhist Temple, worked to bring out the best in people.

The Buddhist monk, who since 1989 led Glory Buddhist Temple in Lowell, died Saturday afternoon at Lowell General Hospital, surrounded by friends, followers and family, including his wife of 70 years, Sea Tan.

Like many who arrived here in the 1980s, he escaped the horrors of Killing Fields of Cambodia, fleeing Khmer Rouge soldiers.

The temple and community have mourned his passing this week with prayers and chanting, as the leader lies in state. Among the earliest of the first wave of Cambodians to resettle in Lowell, he arrived in June 1981.

A mainstay in ushering other Cambodian refugees to normalcy in their new land, he helped found the Cambodian Mutual Aid Association of Greater Lowell Inc., and was also among those who created the Cambodian Buddhist Association of Lowell.

With that group, he helped establish the Trairatanaram Temple in North Chelmsford, which served not only as a religious temple but a cultural center.He was invited to lead the Glory Buddhist Temple in 1989, shortly after his ordination in Maryland.

Though two other monks also serve the temple, Ly Van was its leader until his death.

Local Buddhists remember Ly Van as a peaceful man, a respected temple elder and a voice of reason.

"He was a kind, gentle person, full of wisdom," said Samkhann Khoeun, former director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association.

"People talked to him and he helped many, many people, He was always willing to make an extra effort."Sokhar Sao, the temple's president and Ly Van's nephew, said that Ly Van was ordained a Buddhist Novice in Cambodia at 19, but left a year later to marry Tan Sear.

They had a son, Chha Non Ly, of Paris, and adopted a daughter, Chivby Ho, of Lowell.Ly Van worked rice fields as a farmer in their Cambodian village of Don Teav, Battambang.

In the 1970s, when the Khmer Rouge began its reign of torture and execution, Ly Van was forced to work on agricultural projects for 12 to 14 hours a day, and nearly starved to death.

When the Vietnamese Communist troops invaded in 1979, Ly Van and his family were among thousands who fled to the Thai border, but were turned back.

Ly Van and his family were among the first wave, taken to Mount Dangrek, where hundreds "and maybe thousands," said Sao, plunged to their deaths.

Ly Van and his family escaped by climbing down the mountain, using rocks, limbs and small trees. For six weeks, they ate whatever they could and avoided landmines, booby traps and the battles of Vietnamese and Khmer soldiers.

They entered Thailand across a stream and eventually were taken to a holding center, where Thai soldiers regularly mistreated residents.

They were eventually transferred to a refugee processing center in the Philippines, granted political asylum and began their journey to America.

"I say anyone who survived that to make it to the U.S. has 1,000 lucks," said Sao.Sao said he had heard of his uncle but never met him in Cambodia.

When he met Ly Van in Maryland in 1988, "I told him my story and of my relatives. He said, 'you are related to me.' I was shocked.

"Sao, who was living in Pennsylvania at the time, moved to Lowell in 1989.Ly Van never forgot his homeland, whatever horrors happened there.

"He helped so many in the community, not just here, but in Cambodia," said Sao, 47. "He helped other temples and villages over in Cambodia, sometimes with money to help build schools, bridges, roads and ponds to store water.

Sometimes he went back and sometimes he helped from here."Khoeun was surprised to learn that Ly Van knew his grandfather back in Cambodia.

He was equally surprised to find a batch of poetry the monk had composed."It is wonderful poetry," said Khoeun.

"It is about his experiences with the Khmer Rouge and his life, escaping the ordeal in Cambodia."
He also wrote poems of the country's kings, generals and other political figures in the 1960s and '70s, Khoeun said.

"I want to type them up and put a small book together in his memory."Ly Van's body is to be cremated tomorrow.

American Movie Star Attempts to Campaign Pushing China to Help to End Violence in Darfur, but Cambodian Authorities Are Likely to Reject the Attempt

A tear goes down the face of Hollywood actress and UNICEF ambassador Mia Farrow (L) as she visits the cemetery where victims of 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys are buried in Srebrenica December 6, 2007. Cambodia has barred Farrow and a group campaigning for an end to atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region from lighting a symbolic Olympic torch at a "Killing Fields" memorial site. REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic

Posted on 18 January 2008.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 543

“Phnom Penh: The 63-year-old American movie star Mia Farrow, now a UNICEF good-will ambassador wants to come to Cambodia at the end of the campaign, urging the Chinese government to help to end abuses in Darfur in the western part of Sudan, but Cambodia is likely not to allow the event.

“According to a report of Reuters, the American movie star had started a campaign with an Olympic-style torch relay, in order to push China, which has good relations with the government of Sudan, to help to end abuses in this area of conflict, ending the campaign in Cambodia, after she had already carried on the campaign which had started in Chad, near to Darfur.

“The same source said that Cambodia is the sixth country through which the American actress Mia Farrow carried the torch, after starting in Chad, and moving through Rwanda, Armenia, Germany, and Bosnia.

“Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the Minister of Information and the government’s spokesperson, did not answer his telephone; as for Mr. Khieu Sopheak, the Ministry of Interior spokesperson, he did not answer his telephone either on the afternoon of 16 January, but he told the Herald Sun [Australia] that Cambodia does not welcome such a campaign, and Cambodia will also not allow any gathering for such an Olympic-style torch relay.

“He told the same source that whoever conducts the event would face a trial.

“So far, the crisis in Darfur is still the hottest in the world. Violence has killed approximately 200,000 people during five years of war, starvation, and diseases.

“Mia Farrow was born on Monday 9 February 1945. She started making movies in 1964 until now. She is also playing a role as a UNICEF good-will ambassador.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4491, 17.1.2008

Boeng Kak Lake in Phnom Penh

Areyathor, Vol.14, #1301, 18-19.1.2008

A Report Says [National Assembly President] Samdech Ponhea Chakrey Heng Samrin Signed a Letter for the Suspension of Pumping of Soil to Fill Boeng Kak Lake [the Phnom Penh governor and vice-governor allegedly also disagree with each other about pumping of soil to fill Boeng Kak lake]

Boeng Kak Lake in Phnom Penh - 16.1.2008

The BoengKak Lake in Phnom Penh is contracted to an hardly known Korean company for “development” - 90% are to be filled in and built up. For a long time, it served as a reservoir to take in flood water. Several hundred families would be displaced…

Preparation to Start the Lightning Campaign 2008

Posted on 18 January 2008.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 543

“Phnom Penh: Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen ordered the municipal authorities to take action to crack down on all big and small gambling sites in Phnom Penh, for the citizens’ safety for the New Year 2008.

“A source from the Phnom Penh authorities said that Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s order has already reached all officials’ hands and the authorities have also started to meet with each other in order to plan a schedule to conduct a big crackdown in Phnom Penh.

“In the letter, Samdech Prime Minister noticed eight main targets for the campaign to be conducted successfully. However, it is not stated in which districts the eight targets are. A military police official said that the main sites to be suppressed are not big casinos but a number of guesthouses and hotels that secretly operate drug trafficking. Looking from the outside, some guesthouses seem to have guests entering to stay as normal, but inside, drug trafficking and sex trafficking is operated illegally. Some big casinos have even small children entering to gamble, badly affecting the society.

“A Municipal official said that some sites have some tacit agreements with local authorities. Generally, they hide something from the higher levels to keep their individuals’ interests. As for officials of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, they said that they do not know whether the sites are legal or illegal; they just know that the sites operate and pay taxes to the state – that is all.

“The official added that in some hotels they put up signs as massage and karaoke parlors, but actually they operate sex trafficking and gambling.

“A police official of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police Commission told Kampuchea Thmey that the police has already received the order, they are just waiting for the time to start the suppression. According to Samdech Hun Sen’s order, gambling at hotels and guesthouses will be suppressed, and if evidence is found that owners of the hotels and guesthouses commit crimes, they will be arrested and brought to the courts for punishment. The new year campaign to crack down on gambling, drug trafficking, and sex trafficking is named ‘Lightning Campaign 2008′.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1548, 18.1.2008

Dream Deferred

Financial Times, UK
Jan 19 2008

Mia Farrow is deeply concerned about the plight of Sudan's Darfurregion, where government-backed militias are engaged in genocideagainst the population.

The 62-year-old actress is part of the advisory committee for Dreamfor Darfur, which is trying to pressure Beijing - a leading patronof the Sudanese regime - to use its leverage in Khartoum to stop thepersecution of civilians in the blighted region.

It may have seemed logical for Darfur campaigners to expect sympathyfor their cause in Cambodia, which was devastated by the 1970s genocideoverseen by the Beijing-backed Khmer Rouge.

But Phnom Penh has vetoed Farrow's plan to hold a ceremony and lightan Olympic-style torch this weekend at the Khmer Rouge's notoriousformer Tuol Sleng prison as part of a campaign to draw attentionto the Darfur crisis.

Similar ceremonies have already taken placein other countries touched by genocide including Rwanda, Armenia,Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Cambodia explained its decision by saying that the activists were not"doing this for humanitarian reasons but because they have a politicalagenda against China".

China is Cambodia's largest trading partner and one of its biggestaid donors - which is perhaps why Phnom Penh is willing to let bygonesbe bygones.

Cambodia plant starts up

Bangkok Post
January 19, 2008

Siam Cement Group's joint-venture cement plant in Cambodia officially started operations yesterday to tap rapid demand growth in Thailand's neighbour.

Kampot Cement (KCC), is a 90:10 joint venture between SCG and the Khaou Chuly Group, Cambodia's leading construction and engineering firm.

The joint venture company was established with investment capital of US$100 million, or 3.2 billion baht, and can produce 900,000 tonnes of Portland cement a year, according to SCG cement president Pramote Techasupatkul.

Output from the Kampot plant mainly served domestic consumption. Demand in Cambodia has grown faster than supply.

''Our additional capacity will lower the country's dependence on imported cement, which will reduce its trade deficit,'' Mr Pramote added.

The company also aims to see its production technology transferred to local operators through its contractor training programme.

SCG hopes to become a leader in Asean with heavy investments in pulp and paper, petrochemicals and cement.

Apart from Kampot, SCG's other investments in Cambodia include Cpac Cambodia, a ready-mix cement business; Cpac concrete products; Cpac Monier roofing tile products; and engine parts and lube oil from Siam Kubota Industry.

Groups Urge Donors to Fund Victims Unit

By Sok Khemara,
VOA Khmer Original report from Washington
18 January 2008

Listen in Khmer

International donors should consider funding the failed Victims Unit of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, rights groups said Friday.

The court was supposed to have established a unit to allow victims easier participation in trials of former regime leaders, by helping them file briefs to the court or participate in suits. But the Victims Unit is not up and running, and victims have been left out of the process, two groups said.

“In order not to spend more time and money, all donors should support and fund the Victims Unit,” said Hisham Moussar, a tribunal observer for the rights group Adhoc.

The high number of potential victims of the regime mean a Victims Unit must be established, he said, adding that victims satisfied with the tribunal proceedings “will not seek justice anymore.”

Seng Theary, executive director of the Center for Social Development, said the US should participate in the Victims Unit “to encourage victims to actively participate in the legal process of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.”

Officials have said the US will not contribute funding to a tribunal that doesn’t meet international standards of justice.

Lawyer: Nuon Chea Instructed Ieng Thirith

By Chiep Mony,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
18 January 2008

Listen in Khmer

Jailed Khmer Rouge leader Ieng Thirith does not deserve to be held ahead of her atrocity crimes trial on the grounds that she is of lower rank than four other detainees, her lawyer has argued.

In his petition for her pre-trial release, lawyer Phat Peou Sieng said the former social affairs minister was “given instructions by Nuon Chea,” and should be considered of lower rank, potentially putting her outside the purview of the tribunal courts.

Ieng Thirith, who is the wife of jailed former foreign affairs minister Ieng Sary, also suffers an “organic mental disorder” and requires constant medical attention, her lawyer argues in the appeal, dated Jan. 8.

Nuon Chea’s lawyer, Son Arun, declined Friday to speak specifically to the appeal, but repeated his defense of Nuon Chea in general.

“He did not know about the killing that much because there were so many secrets,” Son Arun said.

Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said his research showed Nuon Chea as a member of the powerful standing committee of the Communist Party of Kampuchea.

Ieng Thirith was not a full member of the standing committee, he said.

US Denies Seeking Advisory Role for Funding

By Chun Sakada,
VOA Khmer Original report from Phnom Penh
18 January 2008

Listen in Khmer

A US State Department official said Friday the US government has no desire to be an adviser to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

The remarks, by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel, were an apparent reaction to government statements Thursday that the US was seeking an advisory role in the tribunal in exchange for helping fund it.

“It’s certainly not our proposal or our recommendations, and there was no discussion about an American role,” Marciel said Friday, referring to government talks during his three-day visit to Cambodia.

The US has so far provided no monetary support for the tribunal, and officials say they are evaluating whether the tribunal will meet international standards of justice.

“As I said, fundamentally, what we are looking for is the question of whether the tribunal can meet the international standards of justice,” Marciel said. “That would make it certainly much easier for us to look at funding.”

Stage set for showdown over Darfur ceremony in Cambodia


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Activists in Cambodia vowed Friday to defy a government ban and hold a mock Olympic-torch lighting ceremony featuring American actress Mia Farrow to bring attention to the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region.

The Cambodian government earlier this week said it would prevent the 62-year-old actress from holding the ceremony Sunday at a former Khmer Rouge prison because agenda against China,» which is one of Sudan's key donors.

«Our resolve is still the same, which is to go forward» with the event, said Theary Seng, the director of the advocacy group Center of Social Development which is helping organize it.

«It's really difficult how anyone can be against honoring survivors of genocide, particularly as Cambodians,» Theary Seng said.

Theary Seng insisted Farrow would attend Sunday's event. Neither Farrow nor the group she is working with, the U.S.-based Dream for Darfur, could be reached for comment.

Chey Sopheara, the director of the Khmer Rouge's infamous Tuol Sleng torture center where thousands of Khmer Rouge prisoners were tortured, said he expected the government to deploy police to prevent ceremony organizers from entering the compound.

The Dream for Darfur group has called on China to use its influence to press Sudan to end abuses in Darfur.

The group has taken the torch to countries which have suffered genocide and has so far been lit at the Darfur-Chad border, Rwanda, Armenia, Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Cambodia was to be the last stop before it heads to China.Dream for Darfur claims China, host of the 2008 Olympics, has protected Khartoum at the U.N. Security Council and sold weapons to the Sudanese government, while making Sudanese oil purchases that have helped fund genocide there.

China was also the biggest backer of the Khmer Rouge's communist regime in the 1970s, which led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians.

It is now a major donor to Cambodia, where the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has strongly advocated a one-China policy.

Hun Sen has frequently described China as Cambodia's «most trustworthy friend.Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said the event's organizers have a political agenda against China, prompting the ban.

«We do not want to see any trouble or confrontation with them,» said Touch Naroth, the police chief for Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh.

«But we simply cannot let this group breach the law either. He said Tuol Sleng genocide museum is a government property that must be protected from any unlawful activity but declined to elaborate on what measures the government was preparing ahead of Sunday's ceremony.

EVN constructs two hydropower plants

Vietnam News

Electricity of Viet Nam plans to bring Cambodia power

PHNOM PENH — The Electricity of Viet Nam will build two hydropower plants on the Se San River’s segment of the Cambodia’s Ratanakiri and K’ra Tre provinces at a cost of US$600 million, local authorities announced yesterday.

According to the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mines and Electricity, the two plants will be designed to have a combined capacity of 500MW, generating 2 million MW of electricity annually. A feasibility study on the plants has been completed, and construction will begin soon.

Other than satisfying Cambodia’s growing thirst for power, the two plants will also sell electricity to the southern part of Viet Nam.

Some 20 industrial zones have been built so far in Cambodia, necessitating a stable supply of electricity. Two plants were also expected to provide water for agricultural production and help reduce floods in the areas.


In Cambodia, too much aid slips under the net

The Australian
Glenda Korporaal
January 19, 2008

SITTING in a roadside cafe in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, Australian Chris Minko is grabbing the glasses and the salt and pepper shakers, moving them around the cheap laminated table top to make his point.

Minko, who has lived in Cambodia for the past 11 years, is furious about the waste, mismanagement and even corruption in the world aid dollars he sees spent in places such as Cambodia, a country struggling to get on its feet after decades of political unrest, including the genocide of almost 2 million people in the late 1970s by the Pol Pot regime.

Cigarette in hand, he uses the objects on the table to show how well-meant aid money often flows from one well-heeled organisation to another, all with different vested interests, many of them overlapping and with different agendas, all taking their cut along the aid trail, with only a fraction of the original amount flowing to the people it is meant to help.

Minko sees it all first-hand in Phnom Penh, one of the great charity and non-government organisation capitals of the world, where many hundreds of NGOs are based; a city where beggars scuttle along streets full of the latest shiny sport utility vehicles.

The Co-operation Committee for Cambodia's latest agency guide lists more than 600 local and international NGOs in a country of about 14 million people. "The amount of money being made here by Westerners is horrifying," Minko says bluntly. "And it is all so patronising and arrogant."
He argues too much Australian aid money is inefficiently used as it moves from aid agency to aid agency, each taking its administrative cut to fund its expatriate staff's houses, maids, four-wheel-drives and children's expensive education, plus its overseas head offices.

He would like nothing more than to make his point with the new Labor Government in Canberra, which has promised to boost Australian aid from its present $3.2 billion a year.

"There are excellent AusAID initiatives for landmine survivors in Cambodia, you can't deny that,' he says. "But I have watched the abuse of Australian taxpayers' funds and other aid funding here in Cambodia," he says. "We need to draw attention to this middle-man structure, to the fact that a lot of Australian funds go to funding other foreign NGOs when they should be going directly to Cambodian NGOs.

"Often by the time the money goes through the different tiers of NGOs there isn't much left when it hits the local level."

Minko knows that his outspokenness has probably cost him some financial support for his own project in Cambodia. Since arriving here with Australian Volunteers International, he has been a driving force in setting up the Cambodian National Volleyball League for the Disabled, for Cambodians who have lost limbs as a result of landmine accidents.

The volleyball league, which operates on a tiny budget, provides a small but supportive sports outlet for a fraction of the country's 40,000 landmine victims.

Started in 2002 with eight teams, the CNVLD now has 16 teams involving some 350 athletes in a competition which runs from May to October, and which also organises wheelchair racing for the disabled.

The league's latest success was hosting the sport's World Cup in the Cambodian capital in December (the first ever World Cup staged in the country) where the home team came in a very creditable third after Germany and Slovakia.

Minko is particularly proud to be involved in a low-budget organisation audited by KPMG (with no cars or villas) which has won a UN best practice award for its operation. Unlike many other organisations, it relies heavily on local staff and works in co-operation with the government while avoiding, he insists, the usual corruption traps.

His program is backed by the ANZ Bank in Cambodia which provided support for the organisation of the World Cup last month.

Minko aims to leverage the success of the volleyball league to set up an Association of Southeast Asian Nations' centre for disabled sports in Phnom Penh and to get his Cambodian team (which can beat the country's able-bodied athletes at volleyball) to the world No 1 ranking.

He has the support of the Cambodian government, including offers of land for a new multisport centre in Phnom Penh, which he believes can be built for about $5 million. He argues corporate sponsorship will be one of the ways of the future for his organisation.

But as the new government in Canberra looks at stepping up the national aid budget, having criticised the Howard government for being too stingy, there is a need to make sure overseas aid is spent efficiently and effectively.

Minko says the corporate sector can play its part by ensuring the charities and NGOs it supports are well run and professionally audited with a focus on controlling administrative costs and delivering services and outcomes.

He has already ruffled feathers in the aid industry which he argues is a closed shop to people like himself who are interested in providing practical help to people in places such as Cambodia but who are not players in the international game.

As Australia looks to boost its aid budget, paying attention to some critical comments from well-informed outsiders could have far more practical impact than listening to the do-gooding rants of another grandstanding rock star.

US mulls funding Khmer Rouge tribunal

The Manila times
January 19, 2008

WASHINGTON: The United States confirmed Thursday that it would consider contributing funds to Cambodia’s cash-strapped tribunal established to try former Khmer Rouge leaders.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack did not say, however, whether Washington had requested an advisory role in the court as a condition for giving financial help.

“The US strongly supports bringing to justice senior leaders responsible for the atrocities committed under the Khmer Rouge regime,” McCormack told reporters.

“The department is currently reviewing all the facts about the tribunal and its operations, including whether or not it is capable of meeting international standards of justice prior to making a decision regarding funding,” he said.

The spokesman noted that President George W. Bush’s administration has not made specific funding request to the US Congress for Cambodia’s UN-backed tribunal, which was established in July 2006 with a $56-million budget.

A Cambodian official said earlier that Washington wants an advisory role in Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge tribunal and would consider helping fund the cash-strapped court if given the post.

“This is a condition if Cambodia wants the US to provide funds for the tribunal. Cambodia is considering the request,” said Kao Kim Huorn, a secretary of state with the foreign ministry.

The United States is a key Cambodian donor but has not pledged funding for the tribunal, which has come under fire amid allegations of political interference, corruption and fiscal mismanagement.

Already burdened by a multi­million-dollar shortfall when it opened in 2006, the tribunal is set to run out of funds by March without another cash injection from the international community.

Court officials have said they would embark on a major fund-raising drive early this year as the prosecution of former regime leaders looks set to go forward.

Five top cadre have been arrested so far, with the first trials expected to begin in mid-2008.

Up to two million people died of starvation, disease and over­work, or were executed under the 1975-79 rule of the Khmer Rouge, which emptied Cambodia’s cities, exiling millions to vast collective farms in a bid to forge an agrarian utopia.

-- AFP

Vietnam-Cambodia trade set to increase 27%

Nhan Dan News
January 19, 2008

Vietnam and Cambodia have set a target of increasing their two-way trade by 27% to US $2.3 billion by 2010 and to US $6.5 billion five years later.

These targets were released at a Vietnam-Cambodia border trade conference in the Mekong delta province of An Giang on January 16, which was attended by representatives from central and local governments of the two countries.

Addressing the conference, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Nguyen Cam Tu said much remains to be done by the two governments, localities and businesses to achieve the target.

He also mentioned a number of difficulties in cross-border trade between the two countries, including poor transport systems, equipment and facilities.

Participants at the conference proposed that the two governments create a more convenient legal foundation for the development of cross-border trade and transport, loan provision for developing transport systems and facilities at border markets and economic zones.

They also called for the exemption of visas for people in border provinces, the simplification of import-export and investment procedures, and cooperation to build border markets and economic zones and transport systems.

Vietnam exported US $1.2 billion worth of commodities to Cambodia last year, a 6.5-fold increase of 2001. Cambodia is now Vietnam’s 16th largest importer, buying mostly home alliance, vegetables and fruits, confectionaries, plastics, cigarettes and detergent.

Vietnam is Cambodia’s third largest export market, importing chiefly home electric appliance, interior decorations, garment accessories and auto parts.