Cambodia discusses sea transport with neighbours

Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam on Friday discussed an agreement on maritime transportation that seeks to reduce the cost of shipping by sea and link coastal tourism destinations in the three countries.

The meeting focused on the framework and content of the first draft of the agreement, which was prepared by Cambodia. Significant progress was achieved on the agreement, which is vital to support the socio-economic development of the three countries, the Cambodian Ministry of Transport said.

Following the meeting, the ministry noted that maritime transport is not only cheaper than moving cargo by road or air, it is also safer and more environmentally friendly. It also offers great potential linking several tourist attractions in the Gulf of Thailand and the region.

The route with the highest potential for coastal shipping tourism between the three countries is Koh Chang-Sihanoukville-Phu Quoc.

The ports along this coastal route could be further developed in the future to accommodate cruise ships, which would help boost the number of tourists in the region significantly, the ministry said.

Cambodia attaches great importance to the development of its four coastal provinces – Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Kampot, and Kep – the ministry said, adding that the agreement will boost trade, investment, and tourism among the three countries.

Vasim Sorya, spokesman at the Ministry of Transportation, said the agreement allows ships originating from any of the three countries to dock in any port in Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam en route to its final destination.

“The agreement will allow ships from Thailand and Vietnam to dock in Cambodian ports instead of having to sail in international waters,” Mr Sorya said.

Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, said he expected the agreement to reduce shipping costs.

“It is a good strategy that will reduce costs and strengthen the quality of shipping,” Mr Chanthy said. “If ships can dock in a Cambodian port when travelling from Thailand to Vietnam it will make transportation in the region more competitive.

“We support any initiative like this that seeks to improve transportation in the region,” Mr Chanthy said.