The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday urged Cambodia and Australia to increase trade ties and encouraged greater investment from the Pacific country.
Speaking at a seminar in Phnom Penh to mark the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia relations, Soeung Ratchavy, secretary of state at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said that in the wake of a recent fall in overall trade, the two countries should set higher targets for their economic relationship.
“Foreign direct investment from Australia to Cambodia in 2013 stood at $2.89 million. So, in my opinion, we need to do more on trade and investment,” she said.
“In this regard, I think Cambodia and Australia need to set out more ambitious bilateral trade and investment and tourism flow targets in order to maximise our economic trade and tourism cooperation.”
Agriculture and tourism are two sectors that could especially benefit from Australian investment, Ratchavy said, and called on the government to provide incentives for investment in the fields.
Grant Knuckey, CEO of ANZ Royal, said yesterday that the investment environment in Cambodia was healthy and likely to improve when new investment laws come in
“Cambodia is seen as a country where a good idea can find a market, with a relatively simple set-up process and a liberal regulatory environment,” he said.
“It is always tempting to pigeon-hole potential Australian investment into areas like mining where it has a global profile, but the truth is there are a multitude of sectors that Australian companies can create and are creating value [in] here,” he added.
On the trade front, figures from the Ministry of Commerce show that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Australia increased 39 per cent last year, hitting $75.45 million from $54.31 million in 2012.
Ken Ratha, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said yesterday that the government welcomes the opportunity to boost trade with countries within the Asia-Pacific region.
“Australia is a potential market for Cambodia in trade partnerships within the agriculture sector,” he said.