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India’s president positive about future trade

INDIAN president Pratibha Devisingh Patil encouraged Cambodia to transform itself into a “rice basket” and increase use of preferential trade tariffs with her country.

Cambodia consolidated its relationship with one of the world’s largest economies at the InterContinental Hotel, where more than 140 businesspeople gathered to hear the Indian president, who has undertaken a six-day state visit to the Kingdom.

Around 70 Indian businesspeople were in attendance, and Cambodia’s minister of commerce, Cham Prasidh, led a roughly equivalent local
delegation to discuss and exchange ideas.

“India and Cambodia are at a modest level [of trade], but there exists a much greater scope for expansion,” said a transcript of the president’s speech.

Highlighting potential for Cambodia’s agricultural development, she recommended that the government find ways to improve productivity and developed the Kingdom into a “key exporting country in the world” while utilising trade incentives. She added that the agricultural sector had drawn “a lot of interest” among well-regarded Indian companies that she hoped that would eventually bear fruit as business transactions.

Nguon Meng Tech, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) director, said the meeting was an important step in solidifying business relationships, adding that he hoped India’s expertise in the fields of medicine and information technology, as well as agriculture, would benefit the
Kingdom.

Kith Meng, president of CCC, said in a speech that Cambodia was an “economic star of Asia” and that Cambodia's competitiveness would continue to improve.

Rivher Prasad, Cambodia country director of Indian trading company PPS Group, which specialises in pharmaceuticals and water pumps, said before the meeting that he thought the Kingdom’s potential was growing day by day.

“I can say there is a lot of development, as the situation is very stable and controlled here,” he said.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and India increased more than 23 percent to reach more than US$22 million in the first six months this year, up from $18 million for the same period last year.

The vast majority of trade consisted of Indian exports to Cambodia, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Such exports included medicines and medical instruments, textiles, leather, and machinery.

The two countries are preparing to ratify a free-trade agreement on agricultural products as part of a raft of measures that have been undertaken to boost trade between members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and India.

The deal will see tariffs lifted on 90 percent of agricultural products, with around 4,000 product lines expected to have tariffs eliminated by 2016.

India’s gross domestic product expanded 8.8 percent last quarter from a year earlier, the most since 2007 and the third-fastest pace among major economies after China and Brazil.

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