Business and trade between Cambodia and India are poised for further growth following the recent formal establishment of the India-Cambodia Joint Business Council (ICJBC).

The initiative, a collaboration between the Cambodia Oknha Association (COA) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), was officially launched in the Indian capital New Delhi on February 23.

Oknha is a royal honorific bestowed on those, mostly tycoons, who have contributed significantly to national development. 

It aims to enhance trade activities and investment between the two nations through dialogue and cooperation within the private sectors, as stated in a joint press release by the institution.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) will serve as the secretariat for the Indian side of the council, while the COA will serve for Cambodia. 

“The ICJBC was established to create a bilateral consultation mechanism, enabling potential businesspeople from both countries to discuss and propose solutions to augment trade and investment activities,” stated a joint statement from the two groups. 

“This includes cooperation in various fields such as trade promotion and coordination, industry matching, innovation, entrepreneurship partnerships and technology exchange,” it added.

According to the statement, the priority sectors identified include agriculture, food processing, health, medicine, construction, infrastructure, information technology, education, tourism,the automotive industry and various other related areas.

COA president Ly Yong Phat noted the significance of the council’s launch in promoting business and trade between the two countries, particularly in capitalising on investment opportunities in Cambodia. 

“The official inauguration of the ICJBC marks the beginning of a new chapter in economic cooperation between the two countries. It provides a forum to identify challenges and competitions, thereby creating new opportunities for mutual national economic interests,” he said.

COA secretary-general Hun Lak expressed optimism about the rapid progress of the council, highlighting the success of the meeting and the inauguration. 

“I am confident that the ICJBC will be an effective mechanism to bolster the national economy through the promotion of trade and investment and achieving mutually beneficial outcomes for both countries,” he said.

Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Khobragade emphasised the group’s crucial role in strengthening economic ties between the two nations, especially as diplomatic relations improve. 

“I am delighted with the formal establishment of the [ICJBC], which will enable the private sectors of both countries to engage fully and formally at the highest level. Such cooperation, fully supported by the government, will undoubtedly enhance trade and investment activities between India and Cambodia, and further strengthen our bilateral partnership,” she added.

According to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), bilateral trade between the Kingdom and India has seen steady growth, reaching nearly $485.70 million in 2023, marking a 10% increase from 2022. 

Data from the Ministry of Tourism indicates that Cambodia welcomed 68,836 Indian guests last year, a surge of more than 102% from 34,016.