Cambodia and Hungary have convened their first formal business talks to further boost economic and trade partnerships, as trade between the two countries reached just over $5 million last year.

The “1st Virtual Business Meeting between Cambodia and Hungary” was held on February 15 at the Ministry of Commerce to explore trade and investment opportunities for businesspeople and investors from both countries, and potentially reinforce and expand horizons of cooperation.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said this first meeting reflects Cambodian-Hungarian friendship as well as improvement and broadening of cooperation more broadly in line with the spirit of the First Session of the Cambodia-Hungary Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation held last year from January 20-21.

The minister said Cambodia is ready to welcome and facilitate trade and investment for Hungarian businesspeople and investors who intend to expand operations here.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng noted that the two countries established diplomatic relations back in the 1960s. However, he said, economic ties have remained limited due to Hungary’s small population.

Despite being a relatively small market, Hungary is located in Europe, and Cambodian investors are looking to capitalise on its economic potential, he added.

Heng said the February 15 meeting was organised by both private sectors and led by the minister and CCC, in a bid to further boost economic cooperation between the two countries, as part of the Kingdom’s pursuit of new markets in Central and Eastern Europe.

“We have demonstrated our potential and the many free trade agreements we have reached – as well as the trade privileges under EBA [Everything But Arms] and GSPs [generalised systems of preferences] that we still enjoy – to attract Hungarian investors to invest in Cambodia, particularly in textiles, garments, tourism and agriculture,” he said.

“Hungary too welcomes Cambodian investors.”

Cambodian Footwear Association president Ly Khun Thai, who also attended the meeting, told The Post that after the talks, the footwear sector is expected to capture about 20-30 per cent of the Hungarian market.

The Hungarian market will embrace footwear products made in Cambodia, he said, adding that local manufacturers that currently export to the US, Europe and Canada are recognised for quality.

“I understand that through this meeting, the investors of the two countries will further enhance ties, given that the two governments are paying close attention. Thus the two sides will continue to hold further talks on how to boost trade growth,” Khun Thai said.

The “1st Virtual Business Meeting between Cambodia and Hungary” mainly focused on six areas of strong potential – agriculture and agricultural products; irrigation and environmental technologies; processing and food safety; tourism services; pharmaceutical and medical technologies; and manufacturing products.