Cambodia's apex trade body is set to open two representative offices in Australia this weekend – one in Melbourne and the other in Sydney – which leaders of the organisation believe will provide a solid boost to trade cooperation between the two countries.

The government on March 31 had issued two decisions formally establishing either of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce’s (CCC) representative offices. The documents stipulated that neither office would be publicly funded, and that separate elections are to be held to elect a certain number of key members – 15 for the Melbourne office and 11 for Sydney’s.

A CCC delegation, led by its vice-president Lim Heng, was set to depart for Australia on May 2 to take part in the offices’ openings and elections – scheduled for May 6 in Melbourne and the following day in Sydney.

The elections are to be chaired by Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Buon Sarakmony, and attended by senior ministry officials, CCC representatives and other stakeholders.

Speaking to The Post from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport on May 2, Heng affirmed that each opening ceremony would be held after the respective elections, noting that the offices will be the CCC’s third and fourth international outposts, after the first opened in Toronto, Canada in May 2022 and the second in Sendai, Japan in February 2023.

He voiced confidence that the two offices would generate additional momentum for trade between Cambodia and Australia, and be a positive catalyst for economic growth in the Kingdom, pointing out that both countries are members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the world’s largest trade deal.

“The representative offices will improve B2B [business-to-business] relationships and serve as a forum for dialogue between the private sectors of the two countries, to raise issues for the government to help find solutions together,” Heng said.

He shared that the Toronto and Sendai offices have been hailed for their efforts to promote cooperation between Cambodian investors and those based in their respective countries.

As a result, he said, a number of players have reached out to learn more about the Kingdom’s investment opportunities, particularly those involving the export of Cambodian goods back to their home markets.

Prior to departure, the CCC delegation met with Australian ambassador to Cambodia Justin Whyatt and embassy second secretary Ayden O’Neill, according to Heng.

The CCC noted in a press release that the trip will include visits to a number of enterprises and institutions, to gain more insight into the business and investment climate as well as to look into ways of improving private sector cooperation.

In 2022, Australia emerged as Cambodia’s 19th largest trading partner, with bilateral merchandise trade reaching $523.612 million, up by 60.9 per cent over a year earlier, as shown by provisional Customs (GDCE) data.

Cambodia’s exports to Australia came to $379.035 million, increasing by 84.6 per cent over 2021, while imports stood at $144.577 million, up by 20.3 per cent.

Cambodia’s trade surplus with the continental nation ballooned by 175.4 per cent, from $85.131 million in 2021 to $234.458 million in 2022.