Turkey and Cambodia have pledged to more than triple bilateral trade to $500 million by 2020, following a long-delayed Joint Economic Session with the Ministry of Commerce.
The session was meant to be held in 2002 following a Cambodia-Turkey trade agreement but was finally held last week, on February 11.
Since 2002, Turkey’s economic relationship with Cambodia has boomed, said Turkish Ambassador Ilhan Tug, with trade rising from about $5 million a year in 2005 to $124 million in 2014.
“Everything is very new here, but we are very confident we can set back lost time,” the Turkish ambassador said.
About 90 per cent of that figure is made up of Cambodian exports to Turkey, mostly textiles, although Tug said the garment factories producing them were largely Turkish-owned.
One such company, Weibo, set up shop in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone in 2012 with a Chinese partner. The factory produces mostly shirts and pants.
“Many [Turkish investors] are interested [in Cambodia], but they need more guidance as they’re not sure – it’s quite far from Turkey,” said Weibo manager Yakup Aktoprak.
Aktoprak was optimistic, however, of strengthening ties between the two nations.
He pointed to the opening of the Turkish Embassy in Phnom Penh, which became fully operational in December, and talks of a direct flight from Turkish Airlines to Cambodia as improving relations between Turkey and Cambodia.