Russia is looking to up its investment in agricultural products, mainly rice and seafood, and the tourism sector in the Kingdom, after Russian Minister for Communications and Mass Media Nikolay Nikiforov met with Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol last week.
Nikiforov, who led a group of business delegates to Cambodia, said Russia was looking to improve its business relationship with Cambodia and emphasised Russia’s economic areas of interest in the country.
The Russian minister also met with the Council for Development of Cambodia’s secretary general Sok Chenda Sophea.
“Seafood is in big demand for Russia due to EU sanctions,” said Nikiforov, in a statement released after the meeting.
Nikiforov said that a bilateral trade agreement between Russia and Cambodia should be worked on as soon as possible, to expand trade between the two countries.
Nikiforov also said that the delegation had expressed interest in exploring the hotel and tourism industry in Sihanoukville, as well as looking into the feasibility of direct flights between Russia and Cambodia.
Russian tourism, while still the highest in terms of arrivals to Sihanoukville, saw a slight downturn late last year after the ruble lost two-thirds of its value to the dollar, after the imposition of Western sanctions once the Ukraine crisis hit the region.
In return, Chanthol urged his counterpart to review the list of 3,000 items that will have duty-free and quota-free access to Russian markets, in a bid to increase export volumes from Cambodia.
The 3,000-item list was first mooted during out-of-session talks during last year’s 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Myanmar.
Rice, cassava, corn and rubber were just a few of the products that the list is expected to focus on boosting.
A high-level Cambodia-Russia working group has been set up and will lead a delegation to visit Russia this year.
The Agreement on the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investment between Cambodia and Russia was adopted by the Council of Ministers and submitted to the National Assembly for adoption, said Chanthol.
“The Ministry of Commerce is ready to initiate the negotiation of a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, on getting approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.