Cambodia is eyeing an expansion in trade with Russia as the two sides explore the possibility of negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) and step up trade and investment cooperation.
This was the main topic discussed at a February 17 inter-institutional meeting held at the Ministry of Commerce ahead of the as-yet unscheduled second meeting of the high-level working group tasked with promoting Cambodia-Russia priority investment projects.
Chairing the meeting, ministry undersecretary of state Samheng Bora said there are five such priority projects – roof-tile and sewer-pipe manufacturing; Kamaz-branded truck assembly and supply chain services; solid-waste incinerator supply; the production of thermal insulation materials based on agricultural residual rice-hull and -straw biomass; and the supply of Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) equipment for high-speed internet access.
“The Cambodia-Russia joint priority investment projects will provide new business opportunities for the private sector from both sides . . . further strengthening and expanding bilateral trade cooperation in more comprehensive terms,” he said.
Bora expressed hope that the upcoming high-level working group meeting would provide the direction necessary to begin FTA talks.
“We are supportive of and committed to actively taking part in the . . . joint priority investment projects, and these will help promote economic development and improve livelihood standards of the two countries’ peoples through the transfer of technology and management techniques, as well as the creation of myriad job opportunities,” he said.
In a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth in November last year, Russian ambassador Anatoly Borovik reiterated Moscow’s commitment to assist the Cambodian government in shoring up bilateral trade volume and alluring more investment to the Kingdom, highlighting the untapped potential of many sectors in Cambodia.
“Seeing the potential of Cambodia, many Russian companies, both large and medium, are interested in and looking for opportunities to invest in and do business in Cambodia. Going forward, the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries will see continued growth,” he said.
Commerce ministry spokesman Seang Thay previously said entering FTAs with trading partners is a government priority, adding that Cambodia and Russia are important trading partners with a long history.
“With a bilateral trade agreement in place, our trade volume will be better equipped to grow down the road,” he said.
The value of Cambodia-Russia trade clocked in at $63.81 million last year, rising by 15 per cent compared to 2019’s $55.36 million, the commerce ministry reported. Trade relations between the two countries remained strong overall, even as Covid-19 raged on.