The Cambodian business community is brainstorming how to scale up commercial ties with Turkiye, convince Turkish investors to set up factories in the Kingdom, and boost exports to the majority Muslim transcontinental nation, after the two-way trade volume ballooned by around seven-tenths on a yearly basis to $152 million in 2022, according to the commerce ministry.

Priority Cambodian exports to Turkiye include garments, bicycles, mangoes, rubber, cassava, corn, pepper, milled rice, organic chemicals and tobacco leaves, the ministry reported, adding that target imports comprise textile-related items, machinery and electrical devices, vehicles and spare parts, and copper articles.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng believes that the Kingdom’s opening of an embassy in Ankara last year – on February 27 – has been and will continue to be a noteworthy driver of bilateral trade.

On April 9, he recounted to The Post how, on the occasion of the embassy’s opening, a CCC team had travelled to Turkiye – a member of the Group of 20 largest economies, or G20 – and met with the Industrialist Businesswomen and Businessmen Confederation (SANKON) and broader business community.

“Since then, bilateral trade activity has increased significantly,” he enthused, noting that Turkiye’s population was over 85 million as of end-2022.

“In the future, if the two countries were to enter into a bilateral trade agreement, it would not only ratchet up two-way trade volumes, but Cambodia could also attract Turkish investors,” he said, suggesting halal foods and agricultural products as items with high potential for export to Turkiye.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, contended that any improvement in diplomatic ties between the two countries will greatly expand the potential for bilateral trade and investment.

The Kingdom’s wealth of natural resources, sizeable labour pool and favourable laws for direct investment offer ample opportunities for Turkish investors to open factories here for export to their home market or elsewhere, he opined.

“Trade volumes will increase as relations between the two countries improve and conditions become more conducive,” he said.

Cambodian and Turkish officials are also exploring ways to scale up cooperation in commerce, investment and other economic areas to support the growth momentum of two-way trade.

The latest of these discussions came on April 5, at a virtual meeting between Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Tekreth Kamrang, Turkish trade ministry director-general for international agreements and EU affairs Husnu Dilemre, Turkish ambassador to Cambodia Ulku Kocaefe, and other officials, the commerce ministry noted in a statement.

The meeting also covered a feasibility study for the establishment of an economic partnership agreement (EPA), it said, adding that participants expressed satisfaction with the third Cambodia-Turkey Joint Economic Commission (JEC) meeting held on January 10-11 in Phnom Penh.