By Pooky, this blog economics journalist
A highly placed Thai conglomerate source, doing business in Cambodia, told this blog that there are rumors in Cambodia that repatriation of Thai profit out of Cambodia to Thailand may be more difficult.
“We are looking for ways to circumvent the current situation and many have to repatriate our profit to Hong Kong or Singapore” said the source.
According to latest data and estimates, most major Thai conglomerates have significant interest in Cambodia. The number stands at about 70 such Thai organizations.
Cambodia is currently growing at some 6-7% and while the country is considered still poor, with a small population base and significant natural resources, most economist say Cambodians will emerge as an important consumer market.
“They are buying our products because of the quality and price, but when it comes to image, using Thai products are not accepted as politically correct. We are threading a very thin line and have to maintain a serious contingent of public relations efforts to win the Cambodians over as customers,” said the source.
The source said other ASEAN countries have in the past year, capitalized on Thailand’s troubles with Cambodia. “We are pretty much having to fight an up-hill battle with the Khao Kong project against other ASEAN interest,” said the source.
Khao Kong, in Cambodia, is attracting US$ billions of dollars as Cambodia plans to develop the island into a miniature Singapore.
Most Thai television, considered under the control of the government, have been running opinions from Thai business leaders that say “Honor” of the Thai prople comes before business interest.
“I support the government,” said the head of Thailand’s industry federation. Thailand and Cambodia have recalled their respected ambassadors out of the countries, but trade related people still ramain working at both embassies.
Thailand have threatened to cut Thai Cambodia border trade, that amounts to some 70% of total 2 way trade, if Cambodia does not soften its position, on granting Taksin an advisot status. Taksin is a former Thai prime minister who was ousted by a coup and is a staunch asdversary of the current Thai government.
“Pick between Thailand or Taksin,” the Thai government told Cambodia.