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Border Standoff Hurting Trade: Economist

The lingering military standoff on the Thai border is likely hurting trade between the two countries, an independent economist said Monday.

“Conflict between two neighboring countries does not bring any benefits,” said Chap Sotharith, an economist and president of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. “Firstly, there’s a loss of lives, and secondly, there’s the economic loss when trade decreases.”

Trade between the two neighbors had steadily increased over the past few years, but the border dispute, which was inflamed by the July entry of Preah Vihear temple onto a Unesco World Heritage list, has hurt that progress, he said, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

Much of the trade along the border is unreported, so it was difficult to estimate the amount of trade damage the standoff is causing, but traders on the border were being the most severely affected, he said.

Cambodia runs a large trade deficit with Thailand. In 2007, Cambodia exported about $40 million in goods to Thailand, but imported about $1.4 billion in goods.