China will build a railroad from Phnom Penh to Vietnam as part of the project to create a link from Singapore to Kunming in China, said Cambodia’s foreign minister Hor Namhong on his return from regional meetings in Hanoi, Vietnam. The $500 million project is “very important for Cambodia’s economy because we can then export goods to other southeast Asian countries at low cost,” he told reporters at Phnom Penh International airport. The Asian Development Bank has also stepped in with funds to help overhaul Cambodia’s railways, a project many hope will be finished within the next few years.

Cross-border trade between Cambodia and Vietnam totaled 1.7 billion dollars in the first eight months of this year, Hor Namhong said. The impoverished nation still suffers from the civil war that ended in the 1990s, and dilapidated tracks wreak havoc for trains. The project is likely one of many to address a multitude of railway gaps in Southeast Asia. Currently only Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand operate cross-border links.

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